• Stephen Linsteadt and Kathabela Wilson.

      Stephen Linsteadt and Kathabela Wilson.

      An interview with artist and poet Stephen Linsteadt. Stephen’s sensitive and unusual openness invites and affirms the life and creativity of other artists and writers, as he brilliantly encourages us to participate in his artistic journey.

      By Kathabela Wilson

      A telescope on the artist

      You are so deeply and essentially artistic, can your look back and zoom in on ​​the begin​n​in​​g of yourself as an artist?

      A thunderstorm in the Mojave Desert caused my first-grade classmates and myself to be called indoors early from lunch recess. Our teacher was still off campus so we piled into the kindergarten room. Infra Thin Reflections by Stephen Linsteadt.The teacher was sharing artwork done by her students. Because I wasn’t paying attention, she asked me, in front of what felt like the entire school, if I wished I could make art half as good as her kindergarteners. My father was an artist and somewhere in my young mind I felt like mine and my family’s honor had just been called into question. I remember painting underwater ocean scenes with colorful fish a week later with the gusto of Van Gogh. I was determined to prove myself as an artist. From that moment on, I identified myself as an artist. Painting became a lifelong passion.

      A microscope on the artist

      How did that passion grow into the quest that it is in your life, and what are you searching for in your art?

      Hestia by Stephen Linsteadt.The process of painting takes me to a place of conversation with the unknown. It is that place where one brushstroke suggests another and suddenly an image appears on the canvas that is quite unexpected. I think I paint mostly for the surprise of it. It has taken me a long time to stop judging whether or not my work measures up to those damn kindergarteners.

      The images that arise in my paintings are mostly auto-biographical or auto-bioemotional. They are like snapshots of my inner state. I enjoy painting the female figure. I think the result on the canvas is in some way a record of my relationship to the Archetypal Feminine, which is to say an introspection of my relationship to myself. The Dancer Upstairs by Stephen Linsteadt.The idea of painting as a process of self discovery relates to alchemy and personal growth. In this way, painting can be a pursuit of knowing myself at my most authentic level. It is asking the question of what is inside of me that must find its way to the surface. It can actually be quite frightening at times.

      A compass on the poet

      You are also a poet, as well as an artist, how did poetry become necessary in your life?

      I started writing poems in high school, mostly influenced by Kahlil Gibran. These were mostly meant to impress my girlfriends. My wife, Maria Elena B. Mahler, is a poet and writer from Chile. Through her I discovered the Chilean poets Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges. Stephen Linsteadt and wife Maria Elena B. Mahler.Their poetry opened up a whole new world of expression that was similar to painting. The written word is like a brushstroke. All the metaphors on my pallet found nuances in word that completed sentences left abandoned in my paintings. I am no longer certain if my poems spring from my paintings or if my paintings are inspired by the poetry.
      ​​Now, I’m very excited about my forthcoming collection of poems titled “The Beauty of Curved Space” (Glass Lyre Press) due to be released in 2016.

      Pulse of the poet

      Poets on Site had a show of your work in our home several years ago, our “Living Room Gallery”, where you brought “The Woman in a Bottle” painting, blue, pristine and surrounded by white canvas. You wanted our poets to add poems and art on the canvas. I was shocked. It was so beautiful in itself, and the result was beautiful and convincing. What does this collaborative creation mean to you?

      When Pasadena’s Poets on Site participated in my work artistically and also wrote poems on my work, the experience was extremely gratifying to me because the poets gave voice to images that mostly arose from my subconscious. Poets on Site participating in Stephen Linsteadt's art as he invites others to do, in Kathabela's Living Room Gallery.They provided something tangible from the intangible and consequently enriched the paintings. Maria Elena and I then started a poetry group in Palm Springs called “Global Alchemy Forum”. It was a group of poets, who met once a week to share their poems and receive feedback from the other poets. At the end of the poetry reading, the poets would collaborate on creating a painting that I started and left unfinished for that purpose. The result was always unexpected as the paintings took on a life of their own. Collaboration​ inspires new life and creativity that is surprising and “alchemical”. A kind of essential transformation.

      Searching for Meaning in Art
      By Stephen Linsteadt

      Some believe a great painting kidnaps the viewer
      like a rogue ​mystery ​
      stirring something
      beyond reasonable description.

      That’s because the canvas records the footprints
      left by the artists’ campaign taken
      without a star or a plumb bob hung down
      from the easel. Smeared paint

      and scrawling lines leave evidence of the struggle
      along with scattered bristle, pools of linseed oil,
      posted signs for help, and pieces of personality

      never to be seen again.

      Whenever I find such a footprint
      in one of my paintings I cut it out
      from the larger canvas and frame it.

      These remnants, these blurs and blobs,
      are like breadcrumbs-
      the only way back to the surface.


      ________________________________________________________

      Find out more of Stephen Linsteadt on his website.
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      Contributor

        • Kathabela Wilson

          Kathabela Wilson is a local poet/writer/artist and musician. Her Poets Salon has become an international respected must read in the poetry world. She's the creator and host of the Pasadena-based group, “Poets on Site.”

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for enlightening events, informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
          We strive to inform, educate, and work together to make a better world for all of us, locally and globally.

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      Comments

      1. Susan Dobay says:

        I like your philosophy and I love your artwork STEPHEN LINSTEAD.

        Thank you Kathabela for giving the public the opportunity to getting to know artists, poets and other creative people.

      2. Alex Nodopaka says:

        Hello Stephen!. It has been a few years and our get together at Kathabela is still with me with a few photographs of that event. Best wishes!

        The Found Woman in a Flea Market

        Nothing in his pockets.
        No food in stomach.
        He kisses the sleeping
        woman in all the wrong places.

        He found her in an antique car
        her mouth open, dreaming
        of better places. Silent. Her tongue
        bone dry as Nefertiti’s.

        He perceives it is her dreams
        that keep her alive as he watches
        her life course through
        her leaded-crystal bones.

        She looks helpless.
        Her hands and fingers twisted by pain.
        On the back seat he watches
        her essence float and spread

        between her breasts. He kisses
        their ivory smoothness. The taste
        reminds him of his hunger when
        suddenly, in a whisper, she exhales,

        Come into me Morpheus. He has
        nowhere to go so why not into the
        mythology that will unite them
        in this godforsaken flea market.

        ~~~
        Alex Nodopaka July©2012

      3. susandiri says:

        lovely introduction, Stephen & Kathabela!

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