Stories By Martha Nodar

Sandy Springs artist wants viewers to think about lost American roots

Jewels of the Urban Jungle by Steve Steinman

Sandy Springs sculptor Steve Steinman says the works in his “Broken Circles” exhibit are intended to make Americans think.

Steve Steinman

Steinman believes that wasting natural resources, departing from manufacturing goods, and not placing enough emphasis on human relations contribute to what he sees as the loss of American pride.

“We have lost our roots as Americans,” he said.

Now retired from academia, Steinman, 65, said he learned about art early in life and his love for sculpture evolved naturally through the years. But, it is his social consciousness that underpins his current show at the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery in Buckhead.

“I was raised by parents who grew up during the Depression, a time when people did not throw things away,” he said. “We also knew our neighbors.”

Growing up in a small town, Steinman said he learned from his previous generations to value things and to fix things rather than throw them away. He feels that back then a sense of continuity flowed from one generation to the next. That, symbolically, kept the circle intact. Now, he says, those circles are broken.

His parents collected art from around the world. His father, a World War II veteran, also collected tools. Steinman makes art from broken objects that find a home in his studio.

“Steve is trying to tell us through his art work that we have become a careless society discarding our treasures,” said Susan West. “He sees things with the eye of an artist and wants to raise our awareness.”

Carl Smith, an art teacher in Buckhead familiar with Steinman’s work, said “Jewels of the Urban Jungle,” one of the pieces in the exhibit, is made from industrial artifacts that have been reshaped and juxtaposed.

“I am under the impression Steve might have used iron in particular in this composition to perhaps symbolize the shift from a strong manufacturing nation we once were to a country more interested in distributing,” he said. “I believe this piece may reflect Steve’s concern about our changing position in the world.”

Smith stresses that in his view, the circle, which has become Steinman’s signature, is very important because it symbolizes continuity, and the juxtaposed pieces illustrate a break in that continuity.

Steinman emphasized that the modern tendency to throw things away rather than repair them has contributed to a disruption in continuity. So has the inclination to let technology interfere with human contact.

“Technology has put us a step back,” he said. “People don’t talk face-to-face anymore. It is easier to stay in the shadows.

“I see some subtle signs of us trying to come back full circle and recover our American pride, but not nearly enough. We need to re-examine our choices and build on that.”

Buckhead sculptor designs his pieces to capture ‘elegance of sensuality’

LILA-MASTER by Robert Kelly

Buckhead sculptor Robert Kelly works to simplify forms so viewers of his work can decide what speaks to them. But he admits the shapes that speak most directly to him often are based on the female body. He says his goal is to produce abstract works focused on elegance.

Robert Kelly

“Women are very sensual,” Kelly said. “I strive to bring that elegance of sensuality to the viewer.”

The 69-year-old sculptor says he tries “to celebrate the grace of the female body and leave the rest to the viewer’s imagination.”

Kelly and fellow members of the Buckhead-based Atlanta Artist Center present “The Eighth AAC Multi-Artist, Mixed Media Exhibit at the Buckhead Library.” The show runs through May 31, with a reception that is open to the public on May 11.

In addition to sculptures, the exhibit includes paintings, collage, photography, and jewelry, said Cheryl D’Amato, the AAC volunteer coordinator of art exhibits at the Buckhead Library.

For nearly six decades, AAC, a nonprofit organization, has focused on promoting the artistic development of its members through workshops, seminars, exhibits and lectures.

Now retired from having his own business in graphic design, Kelly said he began to immerse himself in sculpture as a hobby about seven years ago at the suggestion of his wife of 33 years, Mary Kay, who thought the medium would be a good fit for him.

Kelly said he tries to combine the smoothness he admires in Constantin Brancusi with the simplicity found in Henry Moore’s work—both European sculptors of the 20th century—and create a contemporary version.

Among the pieces in the exhibit are “Lila-Master,” and “Rachel-New Master,” two abstract sculptures of female figures “that invite personal interpretations,” said AAC member Judith Schonbak.

Some of Kelly’s colleagues and other viewers who have recently become acquainted with his work also offer their own interpretations of these two sculptures.

“I was drawn to ‘Rachel’,” Mike Asbury said. “I perceive her as evocative of an older era, such as the ‘Roaring Twenties.’ Her hair reminds me of the flappers. She looks as though she may be resting for a moment in deep introspection before joining others in the fun and frivolity associated with that period.”

“For me, ‘Lila’ has a spirit of self-assuredness in her womanhood, and ‘Rachel’s’ essence is serenity and peace,” Schonbak said. “I see both figures as thinly and beautifully veiled. The veil adds mystery and entices the viewer to stop and respond.”

Atlanta artist David Swann saw something else. “Kelly seems to be celebrating the ‘goddess’ in every woman,” he said.