GARY STEPHENS

BIOGRAPHY

GARY STEPHENS
(b. 1962, Yuma, Arizona USA)

Gary Stephens' portraits pay homage to the African traditions of hair-braiding, hats, headscarves and contemporary urban style. Many of his drawings capture a view from behind, focusing on the iconic power of a subject’s hair or headdress rather than their specific facial features. Stephens portrays women in head scarves or men in hats to focus attention on the power of these everyday symbols of African life and to capture a sense og contemporary African style and flair for fashion. Stephens is drawn to patterns and visual rhythms, such as geometric repetitions, textile patterns, or botanical shapes. He is attracted to non-verbal, hypnotic visual experiences and often creates layers of patterns that offset and energize the image in the foreground.

Born in the Mexican border town of Yuma, Arizona, Gary Stephens studied painting and drawing at the University of Arizona and the San Francsico Art Instiutue. For the past thirty years, he has worked as an artist and travelled extensively in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa for inspiration. In 1998, he moved to Florence, Italy, where he lived and worked for ten years refining his drawing style. In 2009, he did a year long residency at Greatmore Studios in Cape Town. Since 2008, Stephens has been living and working in South Africa – where his work began on a series of monumental portraits of his artist friends and their African sense of style and dress. He combines his interests in optical effects, stripes, fractured images, with his love of pattern and mark-making and uses the portrait and cityscape to explore both his visual interests and to engage with the beauty of the African continent. Stephens’ work is in public and private collections in the US, Europe and the Middle East.

EDUCATION

1980-82 University of Arizona, Tucson, USA
1983-84 San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, USA
1985-86 College of Marin, Kentfield, Ca, USA


SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2020
Local , Everard Read Johannesburg, South Africa

2017
Pleated, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

2015
Scarf, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

2013
Omenka Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria, Networks and Voids, Modern Nigerian Hairstyles with Okhai Ojeikere

2012
Gallery Momo, In Conversation, Johannesburg, SA
Omenka Gallery, The Ankara Portraits, Lagos, Nigeria

2011
Gallery Momo, Braids and Caps, Johannesburg, SA

2008
NewWork, Yuma Art Center Museum, Arizona, USA,
Studio Dimore , Florence, Italy,

2005
Cactus and Sunflowers, Yuma Art Center Museum, Yuma, Az
Gallerie Franzke Art Meeting Point, Vienna , Austria
Arizona Meets Africa, Polissena , Prato (Florence), Italy

2004
Giant Sunflowers, BZF, Vellechi Spazio Culturale, Florence, Italy

2003
Desert Fauve Landscapes, Yuma Fine Arts Center, Yuma, Az,

2002
Spirit Vessels, Momoyama Art space , Florence, Italy

2000
Michael Himovitz Gallery, Sacramento, Ca

1995
College of Marin; Kentfield, Ca

1991
Personal Icons, Braunstein / Quay Gallery, San Francisco,Ca,

1990
Elaine Horwitch Galleries, Palm Springs, Ca
Earthly Delights, Sun Gallery, Haward, Ca
The Whimsical Animal, Yuma Art Center; Yuma, Az,

1989
Heads, Claudia Chapline Gallery; Stinson Beach, Ca

1987
The Wild West Show, Claudia Chapline Gallery, Stinson Beach, Ca,
The Phoenix Gallery, San Francisco,


GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2021
Summer 2021, Everard Read, London, UK

2018
Botanical group exhibition, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

2017
Summer Exhibition, Group show at Everard Read, London, UK
Kynsna Fine Arts, Kynsna , SA, 20th Year Anniversary Exhibition

2016
Opening Exhibition, Everard Read London UK
Summer Exhibition, Everard Read London UK

2014
Omenka Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria, London 14, International Art Fair, Booth F9
Artco Gallery, Aachen Germany. London 14, International Art Fair, Booth H4

2013
Everard Read Gallery, Sydney Australia, Sydney Contemporary13 art booth
Everard Read Gallery, Johanneburg Art Fair, Sandton Civic Center,
Trees, David Krut, Newlands, Capetown, SA

2012
Gallery Momo, Johannesburg, SA, Gallery artists exhibit.

2010
Spanish Embassy, The World of Cape Town Art, Cape Town, S A

2009
Greatmore Art Studios, Cape Town, South Africa, members show
Portraits, UCA Gallery, Woodstock, South Africa

2006
Summer Group Show, L’Albero Celeste, San Gimignano, Italy,

1998
I. Wolk Gallery, St. Helena, Ca
Mill Valley Sculture Garden, Mill Valley, Ca
Ceramic Sculpture: A Fine Arta View, Mendocino Art Center, Ca,

1997
Bay Area Art, Napa Valley College, Ca,

1996
Maps, Globes and Charts, Irvine Fine Arts Center; Irvine, Ca

1994
A World of Maps, Anchorage Museum of History & Art, Anchorage, Ak

1993
Body Politic, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery,
Self Portraits: True Stories, Bolinas Museum, Pt. Reyes, Ca
Earth Day Juried Show, University of Arizona, Tucson, Az

1992
Shrines, Faulkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, Ca, ( Cash Award)

1991
8th Juried Exhibition, LA Artcore, Los Angeles,Ca
Contemporary Virgins of Guadalupe, Downey Museum of Art, Ca
Biennial Exhibit, Dinnerware Artists’ Cooperative, Tucson, AZ
Anti-War Signs, Nelson Morales Gallery, San Francisco,Ca

1990
Juried Exhibition, Arpel Gallery, Santa Barbara, Ca
Living Artists Program, Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, Ca
The Reflected Image, Elaine Horwitch Galleries; Scottsdale, Az
True Blues, Arizona Art Commission Traveling Exhibition
Elaine Horwitch Galleries; Sedona, Az

1989
San Francisco Art Commission Gallery, San Francisco (Curator, ReneYanez)
Animals, Casa Grande Art Museum, Casa Grande, Az
Introductions, San Francisco Art Dealers Association, San Francisco, Ca

1988
New Landscapes, Claudia Chapline Gallery, Stinson Beach, Ca
Southwest Christmas, Michael Himovitz Gallery, Sacramento, Ca
Yosemite Renaissance III, Yosemite Nat'l. Park, Ca

1987
Michael Ivey Gallery, Los Angeles
Virginia Breier Gallery, San Francisco

1986
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Rental Gallery, San Francisco
Falkirk Center Annual Juried Show, San Rafael, Ca

1985
Annual Exhibit, Crocker-Kingsley Museum, Sacramento,Ca


TEACHING/RESIDENCIES

2012
Printmaking lecture and workshop leader, Yaba Tech, Lagos Nigeria

2008
Painitng Residency, Greatmore Art Studios, Cape Town, S A
Guest lecture, Living Artist, Polytech University of Milan, Italy

1993
Studied traditional Balinese painting with native artists, Ubud, Bali

1990
Fairbanks, Alaska, “Animals, Myths & Monsters”, Ceramics Workshop
Juror, 64th Parallel Competition, Fairbanks, Alaska
Exhibition, Residency, Public Lecture, and
School Tours; Yuma Art Center, Yuma, Az


AWARDS

1994
Grant Recipient, Crafts Category, Marin Arts Council

1993
Best of Class (Drawing), Marin County Fair, Ca

1991
Best of Class (Mixed Media), Marin County Fair, Ca (Jurors: Wayne Thiebaud, Ruth Braunstein)

1986
Grand Prize, “Spirit of Agriculture” Contest, MALT, Marin, CA
Honorable Mention, Marin County Fair, CA

1985
Honorable Mention Cash Award, Marin County Fair, California ,Invitational Exhibit Student Award, Sausalito Art Festival, California


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Yswara Griot, Arts and Culture blog May 5, 2013 “the Magic of Gary Stephens and the Everyday”
Omenka Gallery -Gary Stephens, The Ankara Portraits, exhibition catalog 2012 Lagos, Nigeria
Mary Ekah -Thisday, The Saturday Newspaper, Lagos Nigeria Oct 20th,2012
“African Urban Lifestyle from the Brush of an American
Tajudeen Sowole -Africanartswithtaj, Nigerian art blog, October 2012
Ankara Portriats
Robyn Sassen - Sunday Times Review, Johannesburg, June 5th, 2011
“Making Haircuts the Headline Act”
Sue Grant Marshell -The Arch, Johannesburg Winter 2011 “Streets Ahead, Hair as Braided Art Form”
JoAnne Locktov - The Art of Mosaic Design, Rockport Press, 1998
Torri Minton - San Francisco Chronicle, “Too-Human Angel”, Sept. 22, 1994
Pascale Le Draoulec- Marin Independent Journal, “Suggestive Art Pulled”, Sept. 20, 1994
Margaret Regan- Tucson Weekly, “ the Best of The West”, June 12, 1991
Jennifer Crohn- San Francisco Bay Guardian, “Art Against War”, March 13, 1991
Tyson Underwood- Pacific Sun, “Colorful Ceramic Animal Fantasies”, June 8, 1990
Anna McClain- In Marin, “No Attitude, Gary Stephens Paints Happy”, June,
1990
Michele Cohen- Yuma Daily Sun, “Yuma Bred Artist Tickles Visual Pallet”, January 11,1990
Phyllis Bragdon- Marin Independent Journal, “Falkirk Annual”, Sept. 5, 1989
David Mitchell- Point Reyes Light, "Sparsely Sage and Timely", June 29, 1989
Jim Scanlon- Coastal Post, “Socko Stinson Art Show”, June 26, 1989
Jennifer Merin- Los Angeles Times, “Sedona: Art Scene”, June ,1988
David Hale- Fresno Metropolitan Art Report, “Yosemite Renaissance III”, Summer, 1988