The art of Steve Imrich, who works in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts depicts not only his thoughts and personality, but the different arts and professions that he obtained skills in, both as an artist and a pilot, throughout his life.
He has a Masters degree in Architecture from MIT and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Goddard College concentrating in Studio Arts and History. Goddard College, located in Plainfield, Vermont, is where he studied drawing, painting and sculpture before he started focusing on architecture and design. He also has experience as a commercial pilot and still flies planes as a recreational activity. He first became interested in art when he was a child of 5 or 6 years old when his mother would buy big rolls of shelf-paper and he would draw on them from one end to the other. At an early age, Imrich was very interested in drawing. As a child, he mainly drew action-drawings before becoming interested in the arts in general and moving on to his current practice.
Imrich’s approach to artwork has a specific characterization that was influenced by his life experiences. His current artwork is influenced by aerial memories, sketches and photos of landscapes, as well as direct observations. mainly aerial shots of landscapes. His artwork is also mostly done in oil on linen. He has characterized his artwork and art style in general as being “terrain drawings or paintings, but I think it’s only because it doesn’t necessarily focus on psychological or human figural or other kinds of stylistic aspects.” This describes how the focus in Imrich’s artwork is mainly to depict landscapes and not try to invoke any human psychological messages.
However, that isn’t to say that Imrich doesn’t have a particular point-of-view on landscape that permeates most of his work. His work is really trying to elaborate the relationship between the ‘human designed world’ and the ‘natural world’ as it relates to the landscape. His depiction of landscapes is also mainly done through aerial shots, which was influenced by his experience of learning how to fly a plane when he was 16 years-old. Therefore, he has multiple accumulated memories of flying.
Imrich was also heavily influenced by what writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said about flying, which was that “flying is primarily memories of landscapes.” This quote describes how people flying in airplanes, either as pilots or passengers, naturally tend to focus on what is below them, but also on the general environmental characteristics of patterns, weather, and wondering what must be happening on the surface. This, combined with his memories of flying, is what gave him his interest in the aerial perspective. Despite the majority of his artwork being done in similar styles with a main medium, Imrich still manages to experiment with different mediums and forms of art and add variety to his portfolio.
He doesn’t have a fixed medium or art style; despite his current main medium being oil on linen, there is still variety to his work. For example, the oil on linen pieces in his portfolio have been done in different scales and sizes with the largest so far being done in the 6-foot range. However, he also shows interest in other mediums, as he said, “I’m open to use anything and in my younger days I trained in printmaking and sculpture and drawing, as well as painting.” Not only has Imrich worked in those multiple mediums, but he will sometimes paint on board or canvas and has also been experimenting with wash. His newest interests are gouache and ink on a small scale, but maybe trying to increase in size next. This shows how he has an interest in creating his artwork through many different ways.
Imrich’s interest in doing his art in different ways doesn’t just stop with different mediums, as he has expressed an interest in other art styles, as well. For example, he has said that he might focus more on figure-study art in the future, but only because his artwork relates to the idea of “human design versus what happens in nature.” However, he doesn’t consider the drawing of figures to be a separate kind of work. As a matter of fact, he is somewhat dismissive of art being put into categories or creating “boundaries in the art world.”
This interest and all-inclusiveness towards an understanding of art also stretches towards his work in creating abstract art, which is seen in his “Power Man” and “The Fall” series. However, his interest in abstraction relates to how he considers everything painted in two dimensions on a flat surface must already be an abstraction of the three-dimensional world by definition. He has described abstraction to be “a very simple and complicated idea at the same time.” Therefore, he doesn’t think to himself before working that he will make an abstract or a realistic piece. As a consequence, he said that a lot of his work “straddles the line between some identifiable subject and abstraction.” Ultimately, Imrich’s work is done in a variety of ways, despite his main medium, which are used to show what is significant in his life.
Imrich’s work doesn’t try to depict any human psychological messages, but it does try to depict his own feelings towards locations that are relevant to his life, as well as current events. This quality is shown in the series of paintings he has done titled “Somerville” that depicts just that, the city of Somerville, Massachusetts. His interest in the city stems naturally from how it is where his studio is located. He has tried to represent his environment in a unique way, which he was able to do, because of daily travel on the streets of the city and, but also because he has flown over Somerville many times.
One of its aspects that he finds intriguing is, “the sheer patterning of it,” which can only be truly seen from the air, which is why the series incorporates aerial vantage. These patterns, combined with specific lighting, also help create fleeting moments or special moods from what one might find as not a very ‘special’ location on a gray or rainy day. However, that isn’t to say that Somerville isn’t a unique location that Imrich finds interesting to paint.
He has said that “Somerville is a very vibrant community in general, with more diversity, creative action and interesting physical characteristics than many communities in the region.” As a result, Somerville has been a unique environment for him to both work in and use as a subject for his work. However, his interest in painting this location isn’t out of any interest in painting architecture, but to show “human design versus what happens in nature.”
Imrich’s interest in painting locations doesn’t just stop at Somerville, as he will paint wherever he is that he finds to be an interesting muse. For example, another location that he is interested in painting is the San Francisco Bay area, where he has family and has taken a number of hikes and walks during visits. This is seen in his painting of the Mount Tamalpais area North of the San Francisco Headlands. This depiction of what is significant to his life doesn’t just stretch to locations, but is also shown in his work that depicts the current events he is living through with the rest of society, such as climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic. Imrich has expressed his reaction towards these current issues just as many other artists have. He has also focused on how people intersect on these social issues. Ultimately, Steve Imrich uses observations of daily routines but with a variety of mediums and styles of art to study the sentiments of where we sit, both environmentally and in spirit.
(Steve Imrich’s work can be seen in “Remembering Together: Marking Lives: Covid-19” through November 19 at the Broad Institute Connector Gallery, 415 Main St., Cambridge, Massachusetts; as part of the “Group of 3: recent and future” exhibition through November 27 at Soprafina Gallery, 55 Thayer St., Boston; in the “BLUE 2021” group exhibition from December 1 through 17 at the Cambridge Art Association, 25R Lowell St., Cambridge, Massachusetts; and in “Somerville As Muse” from December 9 through January 15, 2022 at the Brickbottom Gallery, 1 Fitchburg St., Somerville, Massachusetts. Steve Imrich’s next solo show is at the Soprafina Gallery from April 1-30, 2022, with an opening reception on Friday, April 1. To see more of his work, visit steveimrich.com.)