The Extraordinary World of J. Steven Manolis
Welcome to Steven Manolis’ universe of color, vibration, intention, “Splashes, Symbols & Marks!”, SS&M. If art doesn’t arouse you, it has failed. The art of Steven Manolis is a rousing success. Leaping off from his prominent run on Wall Street, Salomon Brother’s youngest partner at age 32, he flies into this painting career. In 4 years manifesting 16 solo shows, 14 group shows, 3 books and 3 museum shows. He sets an exponential pace. It is tangible. Manolis’ canvases inspire, create a dialogue, force questions, birth answers. As all true art should. Universal matter made legible through the semiotics of line bathed in color. His great teacher Hans Hofmann told him, “It’s time to quit painting what we see, it’s time to paint what you feel.
”Steven calls art “a catalytic force.” Following this drive to share this power-that-be, he is painting non-stop and has, along with his notable exhibitions, generously donated works to both his alma mater The University of South Dakota as well as to the prestigious, all-girls, Ethel Walker School. The works live and breathe side by side with the students. Meera Viswanathan, the imminent head of The Ethel Walker School describes Manolis’ work as the best of what art can be, “the external embodiment of internal spirit...art is the lungs...the same reason we breathe...with its inhalation and exhalation we attest to our experience of being alive. It is erotic (in its etymology: to rouse, awaken, stir to action). Art is the manifestation of spirit at a particular moment.” Manolis is using both sides of his brain and racing, not walking mind you, the fine line that interweaves the quest for personal achievement with the goal to touch the lives of others, including the minds and hearts of future leaders of the free world. Will it be a free world? We pray, we paint, we write, we dance, we sing, we doctor, we bake, we make ends meet. I think we are all hoping so and trying to figure out how to play a part in a new world catharsis. Manolisis doing his part.
Artists have the responsibility to invigorate and inspire. Unlike the explicit message of representational art, SM’s chosen voice of abstract expressionism, he explains, “has an implicit message. It can ignite the neurons in the brain.” As an artist’s creative process unveils and forms their own identity, it can transmit this search and understanding of self to the viewer. Art can transform, teach empathy, raise vibrations and heal. SM knows art is an inspirational medium in any setting. “A visual image that transmits either a message or philosophy has the ability to dramatically influence the thought process of the recipients. ”Manolis has received sacred teachings and pedigree directly from the likes of famed painter Wolf Kahn (of whose works he is the largest collector) and Kahn’s renowned teacher and artist Hans Hofmann who said “the difference between a painter an artist is a mind.” “The best way to learn is as an apprentice,” Manolis explains. Dr. Larry Schou, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of The University of South Dakota, (Manolis’ alma mater and an institution known for its groundbreaking arts programming) calls Steven “the perfect artist, person because he is connecting his business acumen with his artist savvy. He knows how to create amazing artwork and wants to get it out to the world.” So, it behooves us as the audience to join these troops, a piebald glitterati of art critics, writers and curators including Anthony Haden-Guest and Bruce Helander, calling this artist a hero, savant, and master.
Olivia Daane: If you weren’t a painter?
Steven Manolis: “I would be a couture designer. I love all things beautiful and adorned.
”Something in nature that inspires you?“
Light conditions. Their daily effects on us. The color of sky, sun, water. The way nature communicates through color differentiating male and female animal species.
”Next up Manolis has the biggest exhibition (he loves going big in case that wasn’t already clear; yet his attention to detail and strategy are also important ingredients in his seduction of the eye and the mind of the collector). It will be the largest exhibition that Dade County has ever held, “Palm Beach Light,” 50-60 pieces of art showing April 4th-21st in Palm Beach, Florida, at The Fritz Gallery. The joint exhibition with renowned sculptor Miles Slater takes over the old 1930’s dance room, now a rollicking 5,000 feet of rocking exhibition space (with moveable walls Manolis helped design). Manolis’ work invites and moves with the gesture of water, light, elemental energy. It’s a dance. Fittingly, he will be yoking an image of Baryshnikov caged together with a caged “Shadow” sculpture and the painting “Black & White, Splashes, Symbols & Marks (SSM)” from his yearly black and white series. He does one black and white series a year citing Picasso as inspiration. “I’ve taken my 4’ x 6’ 2-D drawing into a 3-D painting on a 2-D surface along with a pure 3-D sculpture of the original 2-D. All displayed in one location and further supported by a 7’ high by 8’6” wide picture of Mikhail Baryshnikov in the ballet Metamorphosis. The sculpture of my 2-D painting, we’re putting in an open cage. It’s all assembled, ensembled in one place.” Cage mirroring cage. “I’ve seen 2,000 museum shows. I’ve been a gallery, museum-show nymphomaniac my whole life and I’ve never seen a collaboration like this.
There’s that Manolis drive. Donald Kuspit, distinguished art critic and poet, calls him “the long awaited heir to Wassily Kandinsky.” Manolis will not stop short of his end game to sit among giants, to earn “the pinnacle status in AmericanArt.” These are lofty goals and yet still the current of an intense caring, honest accessibility and anon-discriminatory approach run throughout his work and methods of promotion. These miotics of art SM so intently utilizes are for all. Unlike the jargon of business, the insider terms fenced in closed, corporate spaces, the jargon of ART is of the populace. A language and energy meant to scale the walls of divisivenessin culture and understanding. Steven Manolis is “FULL-ON; ALL-IN!” as his poem REDWORLD champions us to be. He has buddies, peers, who are rockstars within their fields. He was even a member (rhythm guitarist) of a successful band Torres in the years 1963-70 and 2011-17. These cohorts gravitate to his energy, gusto and sense of urgency. It is contagious. Breathe in the momentum of his path from co-creator of mortgage securities, which changed the face of business, to art world force. Nothing will be done halfway in the universe of Steven Manolis.That makes him not only prolific and profitable but damned fun to be around.
Manolis shared a word with me, “subsume” (to absorb (something) in something else). With his mega canvases of color and gesture, he intends to absorb us and we him into our being. No small intention. No small feat. If anyone can do it, he can. “I want to inspire a life concept. Which is encapsulated in the REDWORLD poem. FULL-ON; ALL-IN! A measure of taking ownership of your life.” Manolis Kool-Aid for sale. Buy it now. It is sure to soar in value and increase yours as well.
REDWORLD By J. Steven Manolis, Artist
A coveted place in your mind
That expands to become your physical universe
Intense and prideful
Go for it!
Don’t be afraid of failure....Experiment and learn from Your Mistakes!
Don’t make the same mistake twice!
Feel the glow of accomplishment
Have passion, Passion, PASSION!
In life, for life!
EXPERIENCE ULTIMATE PASSION!
In all its earthly dimensions
Feel the exuberance of full happiness
Loyalty, dedication, kindness, altruism
Share it with others
Live and exalt in the HALO!
A most contagious HALO that REDWORLD!
Respect and have tolerance for all, All the time!
Be an advocate and role model
Take ownership Of your life In its fullest REDWORLD decree: Serene bliss, jubilant jubilation!
REDWORLD karma I feel it, I paint it!I try to live it too! You should too!