CODA GALLERY PRESENTS BEN STEELE
32ND SEASON OPENING CELEBRATION
SATURDAY, NOV 24, 5-8 PM
PALM DESERT, CA — CODA Gallery honors one of its top painters with a solo exhibition and artist reception at the gallery’s 32nd season opening celebration on Nov. 24.
An art history buff, Ben Steele imbues in his paintings tongue-in-cheek references to predecessors such as Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas, Marc Chagall, and Jeff Koons. On many occasions, he has melded famed artists — Georges Seurat, Georgia O’Keefe, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollock, et al. — with crayons. He describes his work as “kind of realist or representational oil paintings, usually with a theme [in addition to crayons, he favors the Etch-a-Sketch and gumball machine]. The subject matter may vary greatly, but it weaves in history and pop culture.”
When asked to name his favorite artist, Ben usually says Johannes Vermeer. But (and undoubtedly more consistent with his own artistic ethos), he notes, “It’s somewhere between Vermeer and [Andy] Warhol.” Indeed, one of Ben’s recent works proposes Vermeer’s Mistress and Maid mistress as a painter asking herself “Is it inappropriate to appropriate?” while her table holds two of Warhol’s favorite brands: Brillo and Campbell’s. “I love sampling through the past and combining things,” Ben says. “It’s like a buffet: You want to eat some of everything even if one thing is not your favorite.
In 2005, Ben opened a studio one mile from his house in the downtown section of Helper, Utah. During 2018, he has been renovating an industrial building for a new studio that, he jokes, will cut his “commute time” in half. And, he notes, almost doubling his workspace to 7,000 square feet “will allow me to increase the scale of the pieces I produce.” In fact, he has already embarked on that path with a 30-by-90-inch lineup of Crayons and a 60-by-72-inch homage to Breakfast at Tiffany’s showing a Tiffany-branded typewriter (in the company’s trademarked shade of blue) “typing out” an image of Audrey Hepburn. Both will be included in the exhibition of new works running Nov. 24 - Dec. 22; and Ben will be in attendance for the artist reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 24.