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Art is Life: Conversation with Eric W. Stephenson

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 HALFSTACK MAGAZINE

It was a cool, beautiful evening when I arrived at the National Elks Lounge located in Diversey, near the Brown line section.  Lost, yet hopeful; I asked two people if they could help me find the National Elks Lounge because I had a report to turn in as soon as possible and that it was very imperative that I arrive to the event promptly.  Hence, they helped me find my way to the exhibition because I had no idea about the five W’s and one how of unknown journey I was taking.   After revisiting the same street twice, wondering if I should keep looking for the address- or better yet, go home and watch television and catch some sleep; I decided that quitting was not an option.



Besides, I left my warm and cozy residence because I wanted to get out of the house and eat, drink a nice glass (or cup) of champagne and have a good time, along with observing excellent artwork.  If I wanted to be bored and repine about not “having a good time”, I would have stayed home, clipping my toenails and reading a romance novel due to boredom and kicking myself in the tail for not taking a chance and… live a little.



Ten, perhaps twenty minutes later, I found the exhibition, standing tall and beautiful; overshadowing a few buildings on the side and behind the establishment. I must admit, I was impressed when I first entered the place. Servers were serving food and wine to the guests.  The music was playing in the background, moving and smiling while playing their tunes. The one thing, however, did puzzle me watching two topless female models, posing various positions in front of guests and make-up artists, probably wondering when the event would end and when they can receive their paycheck, so they can go home and rest a while.



Yet, I played it off as I continued my search for Mr. Stephenson, the president of the Chicago Sculpture International and interviewee for the evening. Finally, one of the board members was kind enough to introduce me to Mr. Stephenson, a tall, elegant man with distinguished looks and a humble, quiet demeanor that makes me proud and honored enough to be in his presence for the time being.

“Shall we sit down?”  I asked, moving towards a vacant table.

He shrugged his shoulders and replied: “Sure.”  Afterwards, I began asking Mr. Stephenson how long the exhibition has begun, he said: “We’ve been around for ten years now. Our main mission is to display art by using trees for the world to observe,” he affirmed, explaining the conception of his artistry and the importance and essence of it as well. Although Mr. Stephenson believes in the beauty and creativity of art, he says that art does not always have to be so “serious”, sort to speak. Thank God for humor.  “When I judge other’s work, I look for creativity and craftsmanship. Even though one does not always have to be known as a professional artist, it does not hurt to put a little fun into one’s artwork, either,” he declared, light-heartedly.   In the midst of the interview, another server placed more plates of food onto the table, anticipating a response from us.  ‘The food is delicious,’ I told the waitress, smiling.

She nodded and left me to complete my conference with Mr. Stephenson.

At last, his publicist, Ms. Di Meo, had arrived to the exhibition. Once entering the establishment; we greeted, shook hands and sat down.  Generous and quite patient, might I add; when I asked him what is his conception of art, Mr. Stephenson added: “My definition of art pertains to one’s fascination with beauty and originality of it all. For example, when I think of artists such as Picasso and Rodin, I think about how original and fascinating their art was and how they took chances to make sure the masses would not only come to know and admire their work but that they’d make certain that their work receives the respect that they’d so desired,” he concluded. “That is what I call real art.”

For more information on upcoming events and Mr. Eric W. Stephenson, go to www.chicagosculpture.org.

Written By: Dana Rettig - Out and About/Culture Blogger

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