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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

An Observer and Documenter

Joel Stevenson, a true pioneer in the realm of artistic exploration, has forged a unique path in his career, consistently pushing the boundaries of creative expression. His artistic journey, which commenced in the realm of photography, has seen him immerse himself in the world of wood over the past decade. His sculptures are vessels of boundless creativity, often materializing as wall hangings and free-standing functional art pieces, a testament to his unwavering dedication and passion.

Joel, a native of Grinnell, Iowa, was captivated by the world of photography and its practitioners. His work is a rich tapestry woven with the influences of various art masters. He draws inspiration from the Russian Constructivists, particularly Alexander Rodchenko. His work also bears the imprint of Surrealists and Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollack, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko, who reigned over the early and mid-century art scene.

Joel began his advanced education in the arts by attending the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree before moving on to the University of Washington, Seattle, to complete his Master of Fine Art. After completing his MFA, Joel worked for several years in retail display for JC Penny before moving into commercial property management. The property management job developed into Joel's career with Welltower, Inc., where he managed medical buildings on hospital campuses across the western United States. In 2023, with corporate reshuffling, Joel made a courageous decision to retire and pursue his artistic interests full-time. This transition, from a successful corporate career to a full-time artist, is a testament to his dedication and serves as an inspiration to the arts community.

Today, after relocating from Southern California, Joel works from his home studios in Chandler, Arizona. Due to the diverse nature of his creativity, he maintains two studios, one for wood sculptures and one for oil pastel paintings and design. Joel describes his philosophy as "I consider myself an observer. We interact daily with people, places, and things; these interactions inspire me." He explains, "The interactions are like dances we perform; the movement is what I try to capture in my sculpture and oil pastel painting. One motion and interaction flow into another, forming an endless movement loop." Joel's genius is in creating motion from the raw materials in his natural wood-grained sculptures and the flow of the colors in his oil pastel paintings. In this way, Joel uses a static image or object to communicate the illusion of movement in accomplishing something important to each of us.

One of Joel's delights is showing his work in various exhibits throughout the year. "Displaying my work allows me to step back and look at my work from a new perspective; I can see something new about the design, which inspires new directions for me to explore in future pieces.” Artist Joel Stevenson displays his sculpture in The Finer Arts Gallery in Cave Creek, Arizona. In September 2024, he'll show his painting at On the Edge Gallery on Main Street in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Joel's artistic journey is not solitary but a shared experience with the vibrant arts community. He is an active and dynamic member of the Ocotillo Artists Group in Chandler, Arizona, the Sonoran Arts League, The Finer Arts Gallery in Cave Creek, Arizona, and the On The Edge Gallery artists in Scottsdale. His role as an observer and documenter in the arts community is a testament to his belief that art is about the relationships formed between line, color, value, texture, and shape, culminating in a final composition that leaves a lasting impression. His active participation in these communities not only showcases his talent but also fosters a sense of belonging and pride among the members.


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