Stephen T. Vessels

I make art because I need to. Because the works of others who could not explain why they made art made me tremble. I did not know what I was going to draw with my pen. I found these drawings. I opened my eyes and senses and made love to the paper. I do these things because I am alive, and because I can, and because as near as I can tell I was made to do them. I do not care if anyone agrees with me. I make art because my father, who entered the European Theater through Omaha Beach, made us laugh from his death bed, moments before he died. I make art because my mother watched him ship out with my older sister, then an infant, in her arms. I make art because Sylvia Beach lived lean, and Ray Bradbury saved my life, and Mary Ann Evans wrote under a man’s name. I make art because a Starry Night set fire to my childhood soul, and because Alice got lost in a land of wonders, and because Pip wept over the body of his wretched benefactor. I make art because even a knife is beautiful. I am not interested in convincing anyone of anything. I make art because a boat sailed away at dawn and left no trace behind, because I have watched friends die, and because I care about humanity. I make art because I want us to go where we’ve never gone before. I do not care if I am right. I make art because I have made horrible mistakes, and failed at love, and wasted my life, and because somewhere a sad and contemplative man watches cherry blossoms float under a bridge, and because an old artist painted water lilies while war raged all about him, and because Charles Tournemire began a symphony, survived the Battle of Verdun and came home to finish that symphony. My art is not a lesson, it is not an argument, or a diatribe, or a joke. My art is not a polemic, or an example, or a truism, or a conclusion. My art is not a product or an investment. My art is a gift. Even I cannot own it. This is not an artist statement, it is a human statement. A beautiful beetle was smashed in the pavement, a dragonfly rode my hand. I made these drawings without statement or definition out of the sheer love of ink and paper and life and humanity and this world and this universe and with hope for the future. Mine and everyone’s, unto infinite generations.
Stephen T. Vessels’ interest in art began with his father’s love for the French impressionists, and became an insatiable passion that endured to the present. He has viewed thousands of works of art in museums and galleries across the U.S., Europe, Mexico and Canada. His own work exhibited in solo and group shows in California during the 1980’s and 90’s. The current work developed from living without room for a studio. He is also a writer, and the drawings were rendered with the same pen he writes with. His book of stories, The Mountain & The Vortex and Other Tales, was released this year by Muse Harbor Publishing.








Solo Exhibitions

2016 Recent Works, Andre Zarre Gallery New York, New York 1994 Delphine Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA 1988 Astra Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA 1988 Graduating Senior Exhibit, College of Creative Studies Art Gallery, University of California Santa Barbara, CA 1987 Astra Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA 1992 Dueling Studios open houses, Santa Barbara, CA 1992 Astra Gallery Reunion, Cabrillo Arts Center, Santa Barbara, CA 1991 Astra Gallery Reunion, Faulkner Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA 1988 Broadsides, Santa Barbara Arts Festival, Lost Horizon Bookstore, Santa Barbara, CA 1987 Art Happening, Public exhibit, Santa Barbara, CA 1985 Juried student exhibit, University Center Gallery, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

Collaborative Projects

2008 (as poet) collaborated with organist Charles Talmadge on a performance of organ works and respondent poems entitled Recital & Recitation at the First Methodist Church in Santa Barbara, California. 2004 (as poet) collaborated with French painter François Bossiere in a salon in Brittany, France, on an exhibit of ink-brush paintings and a reading of respondent poems. 1994 Collaborated with Dick and Arlene Dunlap, Willem de Ridder, Yoko Ono and others in Fluxus art installations and performances and an international mail art exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and neighboring galleries and venues. 1986 Guerilla art installation in Girvetz Hall, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA. (Collaborated with painter / ceramicist Brian Katz in producing thirty-seven chalk murals on classroom chalkboards and installing forty-two words paintings over all building and classroom doorways in one night.)

Gallery Affiliations

1985-1990 Exhibited continuously at the Astra Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA

Related Experience

1987 Arts Editor, Spectrum Magazine, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA 1987 Organized and facilitated installation of four student exhibits for Spectrum Magazine, UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA