One person might see an elephant, another a mouse. And they’re both looking at the same painting by Stephen Schubert.
Schubert is an abstract painter, and he says he was drawn to the genre because it “allows people to express themselves in very personal and often revealing ways.”
“The human mind wants to make order from chaos and it’s fascinating to listen to people share what they see in my work, which is always put in terms of images or actions we all know,” Schubert continued. “Animal shapes are common and so are extreme expressions of both dark and light landscapes. People then start getting comfortable with the process and end up revealing themselves more freely. It helps open us up to each other.”
The Los Angeles artist is one of 200 craftsmen who will be stationed in Beaver Creek this weekend for the annual art festival. Schubert will premiere a line of new abstracts at the event. Captivated by themes of transitions and transformations, Schubert’s abstracts are created on elevated birch panels with a technique that includes placing up to 15 layers of paint. His approach includes dragging a spackle knife, board or other found object over the wood surface, then applying a top coat of resin. Then he repeats the same process over again. The end result is a vibrant, colorful painting.
Specializing in custom work, Schubert collaborates with set designers and on projects for high-end residential, hospitality and health care design. His work was prominently featured in the Steve Carrell film “Dinner for Schmucks.” Schubert is no stranger to television and film sets. He began his career acting and was the spokesman for Lincoln Mercury, Macy’s and guest anchored on the E! channel. He was also seen on a classic “Seinfeld” episode. More on that in a bit.
This weekend marks the third time Schubert has shown his work at the Beaver Creek Art Festival in the past six years. His last appearance at Beaver Creek resulted in a piece of his entitled, “Breathe,” being purchased for the lobby of the new national headquarters of the American Lung Association in Washington, D.C., he said.
Vail Daily: Your work was featured in the film “Dinner for Shmucks.” Tell me how it was featured and how the project came about.
Stephen Schubert: My piece “Big Koi” was featured in Paul Rudd’s condo quite prominently and quite often, a lot of key scenes between Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell unfolded there with the koi as the backdrop. I have work available for rental through agencies and designers who cater to the film industry.
VD: Tell me about how/when you got your start painting.
SS: I started painting at 33 years of age quite literally in response to a dream I had that upon waking, I felt compelled to explore.
VD: So do tell, which “Seinfeld” episode were you on?
SS: I was on one of the top-ten of all time: “The Pick.”
VD: You say that some of your new pieces that you’re bringing to town are a “reinterpretation of the Rocky Mountain Experience.” What do you mean by that?
SS: The experience in my two largest works, which are about 40 by 84 inches and will premiere in Beaver Creek, are inspired by my love of looking up. The first piece is “Blue Night Tapestry,” which is my take on a clear moonlit night in the Rockies during ski season, when the sky feels endless and I imagine a light path to the furthest stars. The other, currently unnamed, is about lying on my back in an aspen forest during the fall, looking up, seeing the crazy blue sky in between the shimmer of leaf color and how they cascade down. I could stay for hours watching that.