A tiny German lady walked into Steve Lyons’ Chatham, Cape Cod gallery and purchased seven abstract paintings created by Lyons. Although she didn’t speak a bit of English, her son translated for her. She said, “These will hang with the best.” Lyons was grateful and appreciated her love of the arts. The woman lived in a small town just outside of Berlin, Germany. Lyons was invited to view her collection when he was “in the neighborhood”.
Oddly enough, shortly following this interaction, Lyons traveled to Berlin to paint in the famed Heckman-Hofe. While there he visited his new friend’s collection. What he saw left him speechless. In between those seven Steve Lyons originals were masterpieces created by world-renowned artists Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
“It’s been an interesting trajectory for me and my career. Everything comes when you’re ready for it. The universe is telling me I’m ready for it,” Lyons said, and humbly admitted that he grew up a child of welfare. He was raised in poverty in the Appalachia in southern Ohio. After managing to go to college, he followed what he had always been intuitively drawn to: art.
“I started out majoring in art but quickly realized that I really disliked the academics of art,” he said. “One day I was venting to my mom about it and she told me that I don’t need anyone’s permission to be an artist. So, I ended up majoring in journalism and kept the art minor.”
Lyons went on to live in New York for eight years working as a copywriter at Condé Nast, scouting out art galleries in his spare time. His journalism career took him to Cape Cod, Massachusetts and that’s where his artistic endeavors really began.
“In 2011 I had a ton of scrap lumber in my backyard. I started painting on it and selling them from my front porch. People started lining up and in that first year, I sold 452 paintings.” Lyons recalls enjoying the freedom to experiment. He was able to play with different techniques until a light bulb went off and he perfected his technique. He’s credited as being one of the first sculptural painters while incorporating the Imposto technique. This means that his paintings jump off the canvas, or lumber.
“A lot of artists paint water the same way. When I paint water, my waves come off the canvas sometimes two inches. I think life is a tactile environment. Why wouldn’t I try to bring that to the canvas?” he said.
Lyons’ newest project is a multi-media series aiming to raise awareness to the international refugee crisis. There will be an auditory experience, five paintings and two pieces that are painting-based but involve outside media as well. He revealed feeling that people have forgotten the humanity of the refugee crisis because it’s been so politicized.
“I want to give people pause and make them remember that these are human beings. How can you look at a child on a boat, starving, trying to survive, and not feel something?” Lyons pleads.
The series will open in Chatham in Lyons’ working studio in 2017 and he hopes to see it travel to Boston, New York and Los Angeles after that.
To follow Lyons and to see more of his work, visit his website.