We had the good fortune of connecting with Steve Gibson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steve, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
My artistic practice has always been balanced with my family life. Without a good partner I’m sure my life as an artist would have fizzled out and fallen by the way side. I have been married for 50 years to a wonderful woman who believed in me and supported my efforts through grad schools, geographical moves and the raising of two sons. My early life in the art world was teaching in colleges or art schools. The early 70’s, as is the period we find ourselves in now, tenured positions were hard to find. So, I decided to find work else where and returned to San Diego my child hood home. I was fortunate to rekindle my relationship with the printing industry where I worked as a younger man as a press tender for a large printing company. That relationship brought me to the paper industry where I worked for 18 years as. a sales representative, marketing manager, and liaison to the graphic arts community at large. The job allowed me to spend time with my family and work in my studio in the evenings as it was not taxing me physically. Today I am retired from the graphic arts world and work in my studio every day. The past 25 years have been a blessing for my creative out put. I have had quite a few exhibitions locally, nationally and internationally. My children are now grown men and thriving. Unfortunately, my wife and partner has been diagnosed with dementia and my studio has moved back to my home so I can support her in her time of need. So, balance, adjusting ones expectations and adapting have never been more important.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Every one has a personal history and that history informs you every day especially if you are an artist. I draw on that history as a touchstone for my creative work. The way I see the world today is informed by the past as well as the present. I draw on disparate elements that I encounter in travel, reading and observing. I try to set up a dialectic approach with the viewer of my work so they can bring there experience to the work as they try to decipher its meaning. My road has been long and sometimes convoluted but each twist and turn has had an impact on me and therefore my work. My success as an artist is not measured in monetary gain for sure. However, I feel my success as an artist is that I followed my own path as best I could without thinking too much about a strategy to conquer the art world. Audacity and overblown reaches for attention have never been a hallmark of my work. I work on a relative small scale and rely on an intimate or poetic approach to the work. Some people respond positively and some do not. Being somewhat hermetic, all I can do is what I do and accept whatever outcome there is.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, during this time of a pandemic it would be somewhat problematic. However, all things being equal. I would go to Baja California’s Guadalupe Valley for a few days to enjoy the ambiance of Mexico. The food, wine and people are not to be missed if you are here in the San Diego area. Also, we enjoy a great geographic diversity. The Borrego Desert, the coast and the mountains would easily take up a week of exploring the area.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Well I certainly am not a self made man. There is alway some one, some place, some event that intercedes in your journey. My early school years weren’t especially successful as a student but a few grade school teachers were supportive of my artistic endeavors. In particular, Kathrine Porter my 4th grade teacher. She was also a docent at the local art museum. Her encouragement was a water shed moment for me. She told me that I should pursue the arts as a vocation. That was really important for me since most of my other efforts in school were ordinary at best. After high school I attended a community college that had just been built in my neighborhood. This was an eye opener for me. I could take classes I wanted and guide my destiny as I saw fit. Herbert Menshall was an art teacher there and he reinforced the idea that I should continue my creative work. After graduating from community college I decided to transfer to San Diego State College. I met a wonderful young professor there named Darryl Groover. He was a wonderful artist, a real renaissance man and we became fast friends until his death at age 50 from ALS. His support was unflagging for my work and development. There were many good teachers there but Darryl and his work informed my efforts the most. I dropped out of college in 1965 and was in flux about my future. I worked on ocean going tug boats for a few years and was a sea for months at a time. I read many books by existential authors like Sarte, Kierkegaard, Camus, Thomas Mann during this time. What I gleaned from the reading was that I was the arbiter of my life. Decisions made by me were my fate not the cause of others. I had to take responsibility for my actions. 1969 I met my wife and my world would change forever. We were married in 1971 and have never been apart since. She is the one that allowed me to choose the path we would take for our future. A future that would have twists and turns but through it all we stayed supportive of each other and our mutual dreams. Michael Miller was a printmaker and artist that I had communicated with during my graduate studies at SDSU. After grad school there I taught for a year at Cal State Northridge in the San Fernando Vally of LA. He suggested that if I wanted to continue my grad work at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago he would pave the way for my entrance and complete tuition waiver to come for my MFA there. I would be responsible for the serigraphy department courses. So, my wife and I packed up the station wagon and moved to Chicago for 3 years. A different but exellerating experience. I met Ray Martin there who became my mentor and close friend along with Michael. In more recent years my friendship with Hugh Davies the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art here in San Diego has been a motivating force in my current work. His support and friendship has been and continues to be important to me. He is retired now but still a vital part of the local and international art world. So, I will shoutout to Kathrine Porter, Herbert Menshall, Darryl Groover, Dory Gibson. Michael Miller, Ray Martin and Hugh Davies for their support through the years.
John Hogan, Steve Gibson