Artworks by Elisabeth Stevens
Always a figurative artist, Stevens began by producing a large number of energetic, boldly delineated black ink drawings done “on the spot” in cafes, circuses, city streets, coal mines, industrial, political and rural settings and far-flung places. These sometimes appeared as spot drawings or magazine covers in publications such as THE WASHINGTON POST, THE NEW LEADER, THE NATIONAL REVIEW or CONFRONTATION.
Black and White Drawings
India ink drawings such as “Jazz Piano Player” and “Jazz Trombone Player” (#1 and #2) were done on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and the “Coal Miner” (#3) was done down in a Dola,West Virginia, mine after 33 workers died. The portrait of the writer Jack Kerouac (#4) was done on a New York City sidewalk, and the portrait of comedian Lenny Bruce (#5) was done at his obscenity trial. The mourners pictured in (#6) waited in line for hours to file past the coffin of President Kennedy, laid out in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. A Longshoreman’s strike on the Manhattan waterfront is (#7) , and (#8) pictures Martin Luther King in Mississippi.
These and other on-the-spot ink drawings are included artist’s: THE SIXTIES IN BLACK & WHITE, published in 2015.
While working to sell her articles and ink drawings, Stevens began a twenty year series of more than 30 color paintings on paper that were entirely personal, unrealistic and imaginative. These “Secret Paintings” done late at night at home and never exhibited, included works such as (#9) “Magic Act” and (#10) “Big Momma.” These expressionistic tempera paintings will be shown at Stakenborg Fine Art in Sarasota in 2013, accompanied by the forthcoming color catalog: THE SECRET PAINTINGS OF ELISABETH STEVENS.
As Stevens’ short stories and poems were published, she illustrated her books with linocuts and etchings as well as ink drawings. These works include block print story title pages such as (#11) “Lunch” from FIRE & WATER: SIX STORIES, and etchings such as (#12) “The Night Lover” from the poetry book of the same name, and (#13) “The Stone,” from the odd and unique story collection IN FOREIGN PARTS. The cover of a collection of ironic household poems, RAGBAG is (#14), and “The Aura” (#15) is the cover of IMPOSSIBLE INTERLUDES: THREE SHORT PLAYS BY ELISABETH STEVENS.
In 2000, Stevens created ERANOS, her first livre d’artiste, an artwork in a handmade, clamshell box consisting of an original short story of a writer surprised by a Christmas party given for him by his characters. This artist’s book is illustrated by 5 signed and numbered original copperplate etchings in an edition of 25. “The Dance” (#16) is one of these prints.
In 2010, Stevens created SIRENS’ SONGS, her second livre d’artiste, a collection of 48 erotic and elegaic love/hate poems illustrated by 13 signed and numbered original copperplate etchings in an edition of 20. “Mustache Man” (#17) and “The All Day Night” (#18) are among these prints.
Both THE SUFFERERS and SIRENS’ SONGS were printed in Florida by Master Printer Erika Schneider at Bleu Acier in Tampa. All three of the artist’s livres d’artiste are now being circulated by the itinerant sellers of artists’ books, Vamp & Tramp of Birmingham, Alabama, and are now in Special Collections at Stanford University, Brown University, Princeton University and elsewhere.
Besides her illustrated books, Stevens continues to create very large, independent, imaginative etchings. “When I Was Three I Flew Across the Front Parlor over their Heads” (#19) is based on an impossible childhood memory. “Nothing in the Center” (#20) illustrates an idea that came from nowhere. “Rondo III: Apotheosis” (#21) is the last of three, 32-inch diameter, allegorical copper rondos. The other rondos are “ I: Chaos” (# 22) and “II: Metamorphosis.”(#23)
“Circus Sarasota” (#24) is the first of a three-part series honoring local delights. The second is “Sunset at Marina Jack’s” (restaurant). These two etchings and “NIK,” a tribute to the Sarasota tightrope walker Nik Wallenda, were featured in “The Joys of Sarasota and Other Florida Etchings” show in March 2017 at Stakenborg Fine Art in Sarasota.
Click images to enlarge.