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Artists Among Us: Steve Haweeli

Originally Posted: January 20, 2011

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"Gardiner's Afternoon" - oil/acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30. (All images courtesy of artist)

East Hampton - Continuing with our artist profiles of artists both living and working in the Hamptons, our next artist is Steve Haweeli, who lives in Springs.

"Looking From Maidstone To Orient" - oil/acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48.

Steve Haweeli was born in 1954, and is a graduate of Hamilton College. He resides in East Hampton with his son.

Haweeli is the founder and president of WordHampton Public Relations, one of the region's most successful and recognizable agency principals. Founded in 1992, WHPR has won several awards for outstanding publicity campaigns and achievement in branding and reputation.

In late 2007, the urge to express and the necessity to create a visual record, came rushing forward for Haweeli, and the compulsion to paint came with hesitation and fear, so he labored in his subterranean studio and told no one. He reveals "I paint because I must. My goal is to express that raw place where the whispers live. When I paint, I exhale: the knot, the joy, and the hurt. I heal. I give. My backgrounds are brush-applied acrylic foundations - often haphazard in application and design. My two favorite tools are a small flexible metal palette knife with a wooden handle and a cement trowel that I use to spread bold, wide 'planks' of paint. It's not unusual for me to employ the end of a wooden paint-stirrer to make a spontaneous mark; I like the rough, uneven line it leaves."

"Cross Over" - oil/acrylic on canvas, 36 x 26.

Continuing Haweeli explains "I use oil sticks too - judiciously. I like cutting oil with a drying agent, which ironically gives the paint added viscosity, which in turn promotes an unplanned slash or streak. There are usually several layers to my work. Through the layers, my excavating is done. I am moved by two subjects: salt water and crosses. I conjure sunsets across the bay, briny odors, reflections, drops and splashes - and ever-changing blue shades. There's the violence and unpredictability of surf, as well as tranquil seas. As for the cross, I can't shake it. I start with a scheme and then the work takes the plan in its own direction."

He is a member of PRSA's Counselors Academy, serves on the board of directors of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce, as well as on the board of Suffolk County College's Culinary Arts program, where he is a guest lecturer each semester. A member of Long Island Business News' Fifty or so Around 50 Class of 2010, the Long Island Association and the Public Relations Professionals of Long Island, Haweeli has pursued his art career over the last few years.

"Winter Crosses" - oil/acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24.

He states that "My paintings have been a process of excavation - revealing layer upon layer of hidden meaning through the medium of paint. These paintings are informed by various incarnations - gravedigger, traveler, linguist, actor, seminarian, volunteer, barman, wordsmith and entrepreneur - thus contributing to my particular vision of the mosaic of our experience here; often the symbol of the cross permeates the visual dialog within. These creations express the alchemy of fury and freedom I continue to unearth in myself, and the excavation continues."

His work has been exhibited at the monthly shows at Karyn Mannix Contemporary (former Hampton Road Gallery) in Southampton as part of the 2010 Artist's Collective. As well, he is a regular contributor to group shows at Ashwagh Hall and Guild Hall in East Hampton; and Outeast Gallery in Montauk. His work is part of the "Love & Passion" show at the Dene Gallery in Geneva, IL.

When did you start making art and what medium(s) do you consider to be your roots in art?

Steve Haweeli: In mid-December 2007, a dialogue transpired between me and The Voice.

The Voice: You should paint.
Me: Me? You're kidding, right?
The Voice: Nope. You should paint.
Me: But I'm not allowed to paint.
The Voice: You could paint and not tell anyone.
Me. Okay, but I'm not going to buy art supplies around here; they'll make fun of me.
The Voice: Well, you ARE going Up Island tomorrow and could go by that Michael's Art Supplies store off the L.I.E.
Me: I suppose I could.

"Excavation III" - oil/acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30.

I had no idea what to buy - I didn't know acrylic from oil or turpentine from mineral spirits. I bought $100 worth of assorted supplies and plotted to paint sometime over the weekend. That first piece is hanging over my desk in my office; I won't sell it - even though I have an interested buyer. My medium is 'mixed' - I almost always use a mix of acrylic and oil and sometimes a bit of charcoal. I like the texture of paint on a surface; I like moving it around; I like applying it. I like layers and wisps of paint.

"Maidstone Beach Plums" - oil/acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24.

What is it about the Hamptons that brought you here and enticed you to stay, work, and pursue your art here as opposed to some place else?

SH: Back in 1991 I had an offer to come out here to bartend at Nick & Toni's; I had no ties to the city other than the fact that I had just started doing some freelance restaurant marketing and PR. My love for PR turned into WordHampton Public Relations. I love the water - and that shows a lot of my work - so I made the move from Williamsburg to Amagansett and never looked back. It's a physically beautiful place. At least once a day I drive by a farm or body of water and am struck by the raw beauty here. I love the desolation of winter on the East End inasmuch as I swim every day in the bay in warmer months.

How do you support yourself as an artist?

SH: I don't. It's an avocation and passionate obsession.

Why live and work in the Hamptons as opposed to elsewhere?

SH: Besides the beauty of the natural surroundings, I like the year-round community as well as some of the weekend warriors. There are good people out here; I also appreciate the distinction between Montauk and say Sag Harbor; East Hampton and Southampton. And then there's the North Fork, which is a treasure.

"4 P.M." - oil/acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20.

What local environmental or historical aspects of the Hamptons do you relate to that may be reflected in your medium?

SH: I'm struck by the movement of water, and the difference between bay vistas and ocean views. I appreciate swells and eddies and teeny waves and crashing surf and when the bay is glassy flat. I like the smell of salt water and the way the sun hits the blue at various angles and in assorted tones.

What artists do you feel have influenced you and your work?

SH: I'm indebted to Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, Gerhard Richter, Jackson Pollock, Willem deKooning, Franz Kline, Hans Hofman, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Juan Miro and Cy Twombly. I'm a big fan of Athos Zacharias' work too.

What advice would you give an emerging artist?

SH: Keep painting; keep creating. Study the masters.

What gives you an edge (if any)?

SH: I paint from my gut. I trust my instincts.

What are you working on now, and are you involved in any upcoming shows or exhibitions? >

SH: I had a good run at Karyn Mannix Contemporary last year and am looking to collaborate with her again. Nothing firm lined up right now so I'm painting furiously to have some new works on hand.

To see more of Haweeli's work go to at www.haweeli.com, or www.karynmannixcontemporary.com.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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Guest (Steve) from Springs says::
You're very kind Marina. See you soon!
Feb 3, 2011 9:59 pm

Guest (Marina Van) from East Hampton says::
Lucky for the art world that Steve listened to the voice.
Feb 1, 2011 1:35 pm


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