When a local coffee shop in a little blue house on Leesburg, VA's King Street closed down earlier this year, it was a sad day. Kris and I had just discovered it, thanks to a friend, and on occasion we'd drop by and visit for a cup of coffee or tea and hang out with Juanita or Adam, who worked there. When I talked with Juanita on the last day of business for this long-running establishment, she gave me a glimmer of hope that it would once again open ... as a coffee house, but under new ownership. Fast forward a couple of weeks ago and I spied a sign in the place's window about "King Street Coffee opening soon". Then, earlier this week as Kris and I were on our way home from a visit to a couple of local vineyards, she got a text message from a friend saying the place had a sneak peek opening from 6PM - 9PM. So, we stopped on by as we passed through town to check out the new coffee house. A kind, energetic woman named Kimberly let us in and even though the sneak peek won't be until tomorrow from 6PM - 9PM, she still took the time out to talk, give us a look around and give us the scoop on the new place, which is shaping up nicely. As much as Kris and I liked the Coffee Bean, we always thought it could use a little dose of style, as well as some art up on the mostly bare walls. Right before we were about to take off, Kimberly, who is the place's new owner told us how much she wanted to get some local art hanging around the place. That's when Kris and I just looked at each other and laughed. I told Kimberly that we actually were artists and that I had accumulated some work over the summer. I told her a little bit about what I've been working on and ended up getting myself a little solo show, which we just got finished hanging earlier this evening. It was a lot to do in so little time, with so much going on with returning to school/work right now. I also haven't been too big on exhibiting this past year, and generally dealing with the extraneous BS that can go along with such endeavors. Still, when opportunity knocks.
I thought I'd take this small show seriously, like a gallery exhibit, and make a flyer, some post cards, and new business cards - all DIY this time around. I even went as far as choosing works that I thought fell together as a theme, and write up an artist statement. Generally I'm kind of skeptical about artist statements and I recall a great sculpture teacher back in college joking about how if you want to be a successful artist, you have to be good at BS. Still, on the same token, I believe that art has to be more than pretty pictures, and that there has to be some thought behind it - some kind of meaningful significance and dialogue with both artist and viewer. So, below is my attempt at one. Based on how I landed this little show, there's definitely some real irony going on in that artist statement! In the meantime, King Street Coffee won't officially be open until sometime next week. Kimberly just decided to give the First Friday Gallery Walk public a brief preview tomorrow evening, and I'm both thankful and glad to be a part of it. I'm also infinitely thankful to Kris, who played a big role in the hanging and placement of my pieces. I look forward to returning the favor when she has a show of her own in the near future. Hope to see you there tomorrow if you're in town!
Tales From the Natural World: Artist Statement
With the human need to constantly push things forward and explore new and advancing technologies, we quickly lose touch with something we are all very much a part of, nature. Distracted by the latest gadgets and gizmos, we tend to forget about our surroundings and the inhabitants we share our planet Earth with. How many times have you seen a person walk down a street with their head down, focused on a tiny rectangular device in their hands on a perfectly beautiful day? What did that person miss during their walk, as they checked their e-mail, text-messaged their co-workers and checked out their friends' current Facebook status? Where do we draw the line with this disconnect as a result from being too "connected"? When is it time to say enough and scale back … simplify? Who and what are we neglecting and forgetting as we travel further down a never ending maze of virtual communication/information and what are the resulting consequences? These are the things we all must confront and ask ourselves about during our short time on this infinitely fascinating place we call Earth.
The art work featured here was done on the sturdy pages of an A4 watercolor Moleskine, using watercolors and archival black ink pens. The artist is neither interested in photorealism or surrealism, but a balance somewhere in between. The colors used and style of drawing employed is an attempt at capturing certain feelings and emotions associated with a vibrant sense of being alive and aware. The works attempt to illustrate a sense of mystery and awe found between the branches of trees deep in the forests, across the grassy fields and plains yet to be built upon, below the deep oceans, and among the artificial environments constructed by man. There are many amazing stories to be told, sights to be seen, and sounds to be heard beyond or own human lives, and these stories can be found in what we call the natural world.
Steve Loya is an artist and art educator who grew up in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region and has been living in Northern Virginia for the past decade. For as long as he can remember, he was fond of drawing animals. His exhibit, Tales From the Natural World reflects his current and ongoing fascination with wildlife and animals and our own connection/disconnect with the inhabitants and surroundings we share our world with.
Stephen P. Loya