Steve Lewis Interview

Tuesday afternoon I had the good fortune of interviewing Steve Lewis at Avenue Art in San Mateo.  Steve is a fellow Olympic Club member and past Senior Club Champion, but golf is only one of his many talents.  We met at the gallery in preparation for his upcoming showing of his “Golf Landscapes”  over the course of the next two months.  His passion for golf can be seen in the paintings he has created and has on display in the gallery.  One of Steve’s recent accomplishments is to have created the poster for the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. They are now available at the Olympic Club Pro Shop.  There will be a Artist Reception this Saturday April 10th at the Avenue Art  60 E. Third Ave. San Mateo Ca 94401 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM.  Steve will be showing his Oil Paintings, Panoramic Photos of the Masters (hey it is Masters week), some Spherical Panoramic Photos that you have to see to believe, and some Giclee’s of his work. For more info on Steve visit his website

Here is the press release as written by a fantastic journalist and fellow Olympian, Gib Papazian:

RENAISSANCE MAN: n. A man who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences.

It is rare in this age of specialization to find an authentic “Renaissance Man;” a demonstration of aesthetic creativity and a practical grasp of the sciences is practically unheard of here on the Peninsula, where most everyone divides their time between sprinting on an economic treadmill and rushing to soccer practice.

But hidden in the labyrinthian maze of Foster City is Steve Lewis, his painting studio, wine laboratory, sculptures, photo lab and home reflecting a vision and desire to explore every aspect of the creative arts.

Those in the local golf milieu know the 62 year-old Lewis as a talented golfer (former Olympic Club Senior Champion) – and noted painter and photographer of golf landscapes.

A veteran of innumerable art exhibitions since “retiring” from a career as an electrical engineer twelve years ago, his painting has been selected by the United States Golf Association as the official commemorative posters celebrating the upcoming 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. “Golf subjects are probably only 10% of my overall portfolio,” said Lewis, ”but as a golfer I naturally have an interest in our playing fields.”

An exhibition of his golf landscapes runs from April 6th to June 6th at Avenue Art Gallery, 60 East 3rd Avenue in San Mateo – with a special reception featuring Steve Lewis himself and photographer Brian Madden on Saturday April 10th from 6pm to 9pm.

For those whose tastes run far afield of golf, his wildly diverse works are displayed in regular cycles at the gallery and available for viewing on-line at Visitors will find abstracts, panoramic photos, interpretive portraits and giclees – all voracious studies of tone, texture, canvass compositions – even three dimensional art pieces sculpted from wood, plaster and paint flowing

from his hyper-creative explorations.

The collage of styles on display seem impossibly diverse, yet do not convey the impression of a bric-a-brac series of experimental misadventures. “I tend to find something interesting and focus on it until I understand it thoroughly, “ says Lewis, “and then I go onto the next subject.”

Lewis admits a tendency to hone in on a subject and obsessively dissect its possibilities whether through

photography or painting. One wall is devoted to paintings of shoes. Every kind of women’s shoe imaginable as a study in form and color.

On the opposite wall, a series of swimmers, captured first by photograph and then embellished on canvass from a variety of unusual angles and perspectives.

Like many artists, Lewis occasionally turns his tunnel vision to sculpture. His pieces are admittedly few, but stunningly original and expressive. One plaster piece, sitting on a random table in his studio, provides an ever changing aesthetic as the viewer encircles the artwork.

From one perspective, an oval time-portal with a stern faced woman staring into infinity. From the other side, the same piece shrieks carnal erotica – a juxtaposition of conflict – and perhaps a glimpse into what lies behind his laconic eyes.

The diversity of his art – and quality of each piece – is stunning by any measurement, particularly to a relative newcomer to the commercial art world. In truth, Lewis has managed to produce a lifetime of work in only 12 years, without the slightest hint of formulaic repetition. One series harkens towards Gauguin, the next Ralph Steadman – without a pattern or particular style.

So what does Steve Lewis do in his spare time? He opens a door to a room devoted to making and collecting wine. “Before I became an electrical engineer, my first interest was chemistry,” he says, “and when I first started making wine I decided to try making Sauternes, mostly because I liked it.”

On the wall is a 1979 article from the Sacramento Bee, with the headline “Black Day For Grapes Fruit Wine Wins Best Of Show.”

Lewis decided to enter his 1977 Sauternes in the State Fair Wine Competition and traumatized winemaker elite and their coterie of sommelier intellectuals by winning “Best In Show.”

So, how did a rookie winemaker knock all the screaming cabernets and butter cream chardonnays off the podium? “I broke down the components that make great Sauternes and tried to recreate it using only fruit other than grapes to make it,” said Lewis with a distracted shrug. “Don’t get me wrong though, I was surprised to win and years later ended up making Vintage Ports at the Page Mill Winery.”

His latest home-made Cabernet is delicious, but with so many other projects at hand, Lewis cannot be bothered chasing blue ribbons and makes wine these days only for himself and a few friends.

Walking towards the door at the end of the tour, it is impossible to miss a cartoonish canvass of a woman on a beach, holding a book and staring solemnly back at the observer.  Asked for the story behind it, Lewis chuckles. “My son is a really talented artist,” he says, “and for Father’s Day we decided to paint something whimsical together.”  It needed a title, so we decided on: “Margaret is confused about chapter three.” Asked if he might decide to draw comic strips next, Lewis laughs.

“You never know, at the rate I’m going, I’m bound to get to it eventually.”

By Gib Papazian

Enjoy the video of our time together in the gallery.


One Comment on “Steve Lewis Interview

  1. Hi there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading through your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects? Many thanks!

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