Visitors might not always realize it, but Amarillo boasts a deep pool of talented photographers, designers, artists and stylists. Many of them make a living pursuing more traditional careers. They may teach, work in advertising, or work at a hair salon. Some show their work in galleries or public spaces. Others’ artistry rarely sees the light of day. Regardless, these imaginative and talented residents remain passionate about producing art in all its forms. On a regular basis, we like to highlight one of these locals whose creativity has caught our attention.
Steven L. Mayes
Amarillo artist and designer Steven L. Mayes has always loved to make things. His passion began during childhood, when he used to roll up paper tubes into rockets, shaving match heads to provide fuel. He built a gasoline-powered go-kart and a 10-inch wooden sailboat. Later, he says he “half-built” a two-passenger wooden airplane that was partially approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
That DIY/maker aesthetic led him into the art world, along with a teaching career that spanned nearly four decades. After earning three art degrees from Wichita State University, Mayes taught at Southern State College (South Dakota), South Dakota State University, West Texas State University (now WTAMU), and Arkansas State University. The use of computers to create graphic imagery captured his imagination in the mid-1980s, and as the technology has advanced, so has Mayes’ passion for producing computer-generated art.
Since then, Mayes’ works have been exhibited in more than a dozen regional and national competitions. He retired from teaching in 2002 but continues to create digital art, some of which is currently on display at Amarillo’s Cerulean Gallery. Next summer, in June and July 2017, Mayes’ work will be shown in a solo exhibition at Cambridge University’s Clare College in the United Kingdom.
“A main part of my work is finding interesting visual stuff that most people overlook or would never consider worthy of attention or documentation in an art form,” Mayes explains. He shared with us a few of his favorite pieces, many of which are inspired by shadows, textures, architecture, and other often-ignored elements of daily life.
PPHM (2016) The inspiration was the diversity of the museum’s collection. However, when thinking about what caught my attention most it was the large objects such as the drilling rig, the large windmill, and the dinosaur.
Kimbell, Water & Clouds (2016) The inspiration for this is the architecture of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, designed by the famous architect Louis Kahn. I have done several works inspired by the Kimbell, based on aspects of its architecture and surroundings.
September 8 (2016) Interestingly, the inspiration for this came from both the inside and outside of our home. The unusual textured surface on the left was our entry floor with the tile removed. The black structures are shadows cast by the pergola along with a chair and table on our patio.
Homage to Piranesi (2016) Giovanni Battista Piranesi was an Italian printmaker who lived in the 1700s. He was known for his etchings, especially his prints of complex, labyrinthine prisons with dead-end stairways. His was a subject matter that is not easy to forget. This photo was taken in a stairwell at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.
Potted Plant (2016) This was inspired by the light coming through our bay window in the mornings, along with foxtails, shrubs and trees in our backyard. The structure of the windowpanes can be seen behind the pot, along with parts of the back yard.
by Jason Boyett
Jason is a journalist, copywriter, ghostwriter, and the author of more than a dozen books. His most recent is “12 World Religions: The Beliefs, Rituals, and Traditions of Humanity's Most Influential Faiths”, published by Zephyros Press. Learn more at jasonboyett.com.