Steven J Levin


Steven J Levin Biography

American, b. 1964

Artist Statement
“In my still life paintings I enjoy paring things down to just a few essentials, the abstract beauty of form and color. I do enjoy the visual pun, as in the Hats series for instance with the juxtaposition of hats and bird’s nests, or feathers, etc.  But even when the work contains an implied wink, the subject is still about beauty. This pursuit of beauty can often be a means to a further end which is less concrete. It is sometimes the aspects of a painting which are only suggested but not painted which seem to create subtext and emotion just below the surface.  It’s the mood of a painting which is its real power, and the thing that draws you back to it again and again.

To put it another way, art is a craft, a set of skills, knowledge and ability. But it isn’t only that. Art is those abilities projected through a personality, and sensibility in the attempt to capture an intangible thing, which speaks in a language unavailable to another mode of expression.”
Steven J. Levin was born in Minneapolis Minnesota in 1964. His interest in art began early, when as a young boy Levin would spend hours drawing alongside his father, a commercial artist. Recognizing his talent and interest, Levin’s father gave Steven many impromptu drawing lessons and tips, as well as instructional books to aid in his artistic development. After high school, with his mind fixed upon becoming an artist, Levin enrolled at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Keenly interested in the great American illustrators as a teenager, he was hoping to find a program that could develop his ability to draw and paint from life convincingly. He realized, however, that the courses offered were insufficient and not designed for a career as a realist artist. The following year he enrolled at the newly opened Atelier LeSueur in Excelsior, Minnesota.

The Atelier LeSueur was among several ateliers that were the artistic and scholastic offspring of what was known as the Boston School. The Boston School represented a group of highly influential artists and painters working in and around Boston in the late 19th and early 20th century, and included Edmund Tarbell, Frank Benson, and William Paxton. These artists were trained in the ateliers of 19th c. Paris, where their artistic vision and working methods were influenced by the advent of French Impressionism. Over the course of the next century, they and their students would open ateliers of their own, and thus the training and vision was carried on.

At the Atelier LeSueur, Levin was quickly immersed in a world that was rich in tradition, solid instruction, and which held to the idea that beauty and craft still were the underpinnings of great art. The training consisted entirely of studio work under the direction of professional painters and students drew and painted directly from life all day, five days a week 

As was traditional, training began with cast drawing in charcoal to study the nuance of light and to develop the discipline of seeing nature in terms of line and tone. Students then advanced to more difficult subjects in color, such as still life, portrait, and the human figure. Drawing from a live model, lectures in anatomy, and the principles of composition were also part of the program. Landscape painting, an important part of the Boston School tradition, was undertaken in the summer months.

Levin thrived in this new atmosphere and studied there for five years, following which he joined the teaching staff and remained on as an instructor for another seven years while building his own portfolio. He completed his studies with an extended stay in England to copy works in London’s National Gallery, another time-honored tradition for the classically trained painter.

Though trained in the Boston School tradition, Levin has undertaken a somewhat different direction and brought a unique point of view to his work.  He cites the works of Jan Vermeer and Edward Hopper as among two of his strongest influences. His rich use of tone and compositional skill sets him apart from his contemporaries.

Levin has exhibited widely and been featured in prestigious group and solo shows in San Francisco, New York, London, Beijing, and Barcelona. He has been featured on the cover of American Artist Magazine and also has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes in national competitions including the American Society of Portrait Artists, the Allied Artists of America, the Portrait Institute, American Artist Magazine, the Artist’s Magazine, the Oil Painters of America and the American Artists Professional League. Most recently, he is the First Prize recipient for the ARC 2016 Salon in the still life category.  

Levin lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design 1982 – 1983
Atelier LeSueur, Minneapolis, MN 1983 – 1989

Teaching positions:
Instructor, Atelier LeSueur, 1986-1994
Landscape and portrait painting workshops

Group Exhibitions
2016 Still Life That Moves You, Tree’s Place Gallery, Orleans, MA
2016 Landscapes, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2015/16 Figures and Interiors, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2015/16 ARC International Salon, Museu Europeu d’Art Modern, Barcelona, Spain, Salmagundi Club, New York, NY
2014 78th Annual Midyear Show, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH
2013 American Masters Show, Palm Avenue Fine Art, Sarasota, FL
2012/13 Contemporary American Realism, World Art Museum, Beijing, China Art Museum, Shanghai, China
2012 New Works in Still Life, Larson, Levin and Levin, Tree’s Place Gallery, Orleans, MA
2010 A Contemporary View of Women Reading, Forbes Gallery, New York, NY
2009 Following the Artistic Conscience, Tree’s Place Gallery, Orleans, MA
2007, 2008 Small Wonders Exhibition, Tree’s Place Gallery, Orleans, MA
2006 Slow Painting, A Deliberate Renaissance, Oglethorpe University Art Museum, Atlanta,GA
2006 Interiors, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2005 Valentines, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2003 Re-Presenting Representation IV, Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY
2003 Exposed: The Nude, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2002 A.S.C.R. Guild Show, Tree’s Place Gallery, Orleans, MA
2002 Still Lifes, Florals Interiors, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2001 Homage To, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2001 A.S.C.R. Exhibition, Newington-Cropsey Foundation, Hastings-On-Hudson, NY
2000 Still Lifes, Florals and Trompe-l’Oeil, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2000 American Society of Portrait Artists Exhibition, New York, NY
1999 Drawings, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1998 Still Lifes and Landscapes, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1997 Royal Portrait Society, London, England
1996 Oil Painters of America, San Antonio, TX
1996 The Portrait Institute, New York, NY
1996 Traditions, John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1995 Oil Painters of America, Chicago, IL
1993, 1994, 1996 Akron Society of Artists, Cuyahoga Falls, OH
1991, 1993, 1999 American Artists Professional League, Salmagundi Club, New York, NY
1990 Academic Dialogue, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN
1988 Cannon Building, Washington, D.C.

Solo Exhibitions
2013, The Minneapolis Club, Minneapolis, MN
1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014 John Pence Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2008, Arcadia Gallery, New York, NY
1998, 2000, 2002, White Oak Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
1994, Minnesota River Studios Gallery, Burnsville, MN
1991, 1993, Meadow Creek Galleries, Edina, MN