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Stephen Von Mason

Stephen Von Mason

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About Stephen

Stephen was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1954. As a child he loved to draw and paint rodeo riders and football stars which carried over into High School. Even as a young man he knew he always wanted to be a professional artist so at the end High School he was accepted into John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis where he received a BFA in printmaking. He understood that he probably needed more education so he applied to the San Francisco Institute of Art and was accepted with a scholarship. The Art Institute was a wonderful place to go to school because the had the best visiting artist program ever. Stephen attended the institute from 1977 to 1979 and we had incredible visiting artists like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, David Hockney and Merce Cunningham all at the same time. We also had a very famous teacher there teaching women studies named Angela Davis. This was all so very impactful for him and it helped mold him into the artist he is today.

While still living in San Francisco, he graduated from the SF Art Institute with an MFA major in printmaking and he minored in painting. When he got out of grad school he didn't want to print anymore so he started painting immediately because it was so much more direct than pulling prints to make etchings. It was exciting times in the 1980's and Stephen started on his journey of exhibiting, being published in news papers and magazines and he also has 3 children's books published. One is all his illustrations and the other two are collaboratives. His solo book is a folklore piece titled "Brother Anansi and the Cattle Ranch" from the Ashanti tribe of West Africa. As Stephen continued exhibiting and traveling to Europe to exhibit in England he always maintained employment. He worked as an artisan in Museums and Galleries so that he had a steady stream of income. 

Eventually he transitioned into education and became an eighth grade middle school art teacher until he retired 2 years ago. In 2012 he was invited by President Barack Obama to showcase his art department at the Presidents Committee of the Arts and Humanities headed up by Michelle Obama. This was quite the honor for him as He spoke right after the actress Alfre Woodard. He has always sort of had a three prong artistic existence as an artist, and artisan and an educator. All three professions kept him very busy his entire life and he enjoyed every bit of it. Another part of his career that He strive on is international competitions, he loves to compete to give him some kind of gauge as to where he stand up in the world of art. Just recently he has been competing a lot and has received four awards to show for it. This gives him confidence to stay in the studio and continue painting to the best of his abilities.

He currently lives in Vallejo, California the greater San Francisco Bay Area where his home and studio is. He paints in oils on large six foot canvases mixed in with some smaller ones. He showcases and celebrates his culture with an edge because of the need for a Cultural Healing. This is something he is very passionate about and he puts his heart and soul into each and every painting to express his vision. He has so much respect for art history so as he comes through it sometimes he also wants to be a continuum of it that is always connected to it as he pushes his ideas. Stephen is currently a widower, retired Art Teacher and practicing artist.

 

Artist Statement

Stephen is striving to make art that creates a response and evokes a challenge that is desperately needed. His stylized work revolves around showcasing excellence and promoting a cultural healing. There is a constant push for love and rebuilding in his work because of past mis-happenings and an un-natural current setting. His imagery has intense color and a sense of emergency indicative of what is needed for rebuilding a cultural lobotomy. His figurative paintings attempt to push specific scenarios through subject matter that is provocative and sometimes uncomfortable. The act of painting for him is about problem solving, showcasing, story telling, and beauty. Equity and equality is a very important component in his community so he is always speaking to these elements and dynamic.

He has a strong connection with sculpture, architecture and structural engineering as much as he is connected to painters like Kerry James Marshall, Oliver Lee Jackson and Sandro Chia. Because he is an untold story teller and history painter, there is a strong need to produce paintings that reflect his passion. This will always be the case because it is what moves him. Like in the film “Sankofa” it is imperative that he continues to pursue his purposes because the ancestors need to know that he is continuing this mission.

 

Solo Exhibitions

- 2023 - Something All Our Own: The Creation of a Fine Arts Museum, Virtual Exhibition, TeraVarna Art Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

- 2014 - In Search of Humanity, Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts, Blue Mountain Lake, NY

- 1988 - Without Sanctuary II, Judith Weintraub Gallery, Sacramento, CA, Sanctuary, Pence Gallery, Davis, CA  

 

Latest Exhibitions

- 2024 - Marin Society of Artists Art Centre, Sculpture and Assemblage – An Exploration, San Raphael, California 

- 2024 - Omnibus Art Gallery - Figuration, International Juried Exhibition, Dresden, Germany

- 2024 - SwaKarya Art Gallery - Live Art Showcase, Honorable Mention Award Winner, Malaysia, SouthEast, Asia

- 2024 - Chinwe Russell Art Gallery - Living Artist Contemporary Art Auction, Featured Article, January Edition 2024 - Doncaster, England 

- 2023 - Cross Currents Gallery – Color, Shape, Space, International Juried Exhibition, 5th Place Award Winner, Wheeling, West Virginia 

- 2023 - Brouhaha Art Gallery - Portrait Artist of the Year, International Juried Art Exhibition, Hong Kong, China 

- 2023 - Art Collide Art Gallery - Life, Death, Love, International Juried Art Exhibition, Notable Entry Distinction, New Delhi, India       

- 2023 - The deYoung Museum Open 2023 Triennial, San Francisco, CA

- 2023 - Grey Cube Gallery – “Faces Art Show: July 2023” - International Art Competition and Exhibition, Helsinki, Finland               

- 2023 - Saint Frajou Museum of Painting - 9th International Art Resilience Fair 2023, Saint Frajou, France

- 2023 - Hilton Geneva, HelvetArt - July 2023 Art Competition & Exhibition, Geneva, Switzerland                 

- 2023 - TeraVarna Art Gallery, “Color” – Talent Award Winner, 5th International Juried Visual Arts Exhibition, Los Angeles, California

- 2023 - HelvetArt Gallery, March 2023 – Merit Award Winner, International Juried Visual Arts Exhibition, Geneva, Switzerland              

- 2023 - Camelback Gallery, 10th Artist Choice International Juried Visual Arts Exhibition, Bronze Award Winner, Scottsdale, Arizona 

- 2023 - Contemporary Art Gallery Online, 4th Annual BHM National Juried Visual Arts Exhibition, Silver Award Winner, Middleton, Delaware  

- 2019 - Venice Biennale, 58th International Art Exhibition, Biennale Project, Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale, Venice, Italy

Artworks

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