August 18, 2022

Charlie Doodle

Unique Art & Entertainment

County artist featured at Lambert

5 min read

ST. LOUIS – Steve Hartman is getting international exposure for his artwork without having to leave the St. Louis area.

The Graphic Abstracts series from Hartman, an artist from Edwardsville, is among the exhibits on display as part of the St. Louis Lambert International Airport’s Art & Culture program.

An Arts Advisory committee made up of local arts professionals reviewed Hartman’s submission for the program and selected six of the colorful and energetic pieces to put on display in Terminal 1.

The Airport Art Advisory Committee, appointed by the St. Louis City Mayor, oversees the Lambert Art of Travel program, which is funded through donations and grants from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis.


“I’ve been an artist for a while and a graphic designer for longer, and this particular exhibit was in the process for a couple of years,” Hartman said. “It was 2018 when the proposal came out from the Airport Art Committee, and my wife, who works for COCA (the Center of Creative Arts) in St. Louis, was the one who sent it to me.

“The committee picked my work, which is awesome, and they decided to use some of my existing work and put that up in Terminal 1 in the baggage claim area. They have five or six different areas within the airport as part of their art program, which highlights local artists.”

Hartman’s work has been featured in juried shows, galleries and art shows across the USA, and the venue in which his work is displayed plays a role in deciding which pieces he will use in a particular exhibit.

The exhibit will be on display at Terminal 1 at Lambert through September 2022. The airport estimates that 16 million travelers and visitors may see the exhibits on display.

Hartman welcomes the opportunity to display his work at a busy international airport.

“With my experience in marketing, I knew that if I was able to get my work into the airport in an area that has a lot of exposure, that’s a good thing,” Hartman said. “Whether anything ever sells there, it doesn’t matter, but it’s out there. It’s kind of a cool thing where a lot of people will get to see the artwork.”

The exhibit at the airport gives Hartman a chance to expose his artwork to an audience that might not otherwise see it, include travelers from all over the U.S. and from dozens of other countries.

“In addition, some of my friends who are traveling and do fly and didn’t know about the exhibit have walked by it and ‘that’s Steve’s work’ and they take a picture of it and text me, which is also a cool thing,” Hartman said.

The series was inspired by another local art exhibit, “Graphic Revolution: American Prints 1960 to Now” at the St. Louis Art Museum.

“For a while, I was doing a lot of oil paintings and I wanted to try something new, but I didn’t know what that was,” Hartman said, “After walking through that exhibit, the graphic designer in me kind of clicked.

“It was awesome work and great artists were making these prints that were a little bit out of their style. To me, it was kind of cool and I thought ‘I can change my style too.’ I wanted to use some new techniques and bring back some old techniques at the same time. It was an opportunity for me to go abstract, whereas my work in the past was a little more representational.”

With titles such as “Salt Water Taffy,” “Dirty Martini” or “Cosmic Rainbow,” the works of art in the series leave the viewer wondering if the object is found in the painting.

“Some of the works that are up in the airport right now, they may slightly resemble something that I titled it, but I’m titling these things after I’m done with them, or maybe it was something I was thinking about at the time I was making it or the mood that I was in,” Hartman said.

“Sometimes the titles were meant just to be fun and have some humor or whimsy to it.”

Hartman was born and raised in Edwardsville, and many of the scenes depicted in his artwork are similar to what he painted under the tutelage of Dennis DeToye, his mentor at Edwardsville High School, and then again at Eastern Illinois University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in art with an emphasis in graphic design.

By 1992, Hartman put his brush aside for his computer to work as a graphic designer. He is currently the creative director at Werremeyer Creative in St. Louis.

In 2013, Hartman’s love for painting began to resurface, and he hasn’t stopped since.

“Dennis DeToye was a huge influence on me going into the creative field,” Hartman said. “I became a graphic designer out of college, but many years later, I kind of re-lit my fine arts side. You pick a job as a graphic designer because you love creativity, but art has always been my first love.

“Sometimes you need to fuel that creative fire again, and picking up the paintbrush was what got me back into creating fine art. It’s been a really fun side hustle.”

Hartman’s passion for his hometown shows up in more than the subjects of his paintings.

Hartman has regularly donated proceeds from the sale of his original paintings and giclée prints, such as “The Wildey Theatre” and “Once Upon a Town,” to local nonprofits and causes, including the Edwardsville Children’s Museum, Edwardsville Arts Center and Main Street Community Center.

“It’s important for me to say involved and be proactive to help make our town awesome,” Hartman said. “The art sales don’t make tons of money, but I like to give some of it away to the Arts Center or the Children’s Museum. Whoever is next, I’m all for it.”

For more information about Hartman and his artwork, visit https://stevehartman.art.com

https://www.thetelegraph.com/candidates2020/article/County-artist-featured-at-Lambert-16775519.php

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