Art has been a part of Steven Harvey’s entire life. Now 62, the co-director of Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects has worked at art material stores, been a practicing artist, acted as an art adviser and, just recently, served as a co-juror of the 59th Chautauqua Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art.
And at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Hultquist Center, along with Jennifer Samet, the exhibition’s co-juror and his gallery’s co-director, Harvey will talk about his artistic history and the various exhibitions he oversaw during the first Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution lecture of the season.
“My perspective on art is always changing,” Harvey said. “I’m constantly feeling like I’m getting to see new work and see it in new ways. To resee and to discover things is part of the pleasure of what I do.”
Samet, although not an artist herself, writes a column called “Beer with a Painter” for the online art magazine Hyperallergic, in which she interviews artists about their craft. She said she started the project as a way to highlight artists’ voices and learn about artwork “from the inside out” as opposed to starting from the cultural context behind a piece.
From those conversations Samet said she has gleaned countless things, including ideas for exhibitions. One of her most memorable interviews was with artist Charles Garabedian on Aug. 23, 2015; less than six months later, he passed away on Feb. 11.
“He said something very moving like, ‘When you’re young you think you’re going to be Rembrandt and as time goes on you realize that you’re not, but you just keep working and you realize that’s what Rembrandt thought, too,’ ” she said. “Just doing your work rather than stopping because you’re not good enough and, really, that’s what makes someone great.”
Samet said she hopes to touch on the idea of the voice of the artist during the lecture as well as the concept of the “space of desire.”
“One of the reasons that painting as a medium is so endlessly fascinating to me is that there is this space that I’ve been calling ‘the space of desire’ between the mark of the paint and whatever is represented in the painting that can never be closed,” Samet said. “The parallel or the analogy is the space between longing and having, the space between desiring something and actually having a person or thing.”
Overall, Harvey said he hopes to share with audiences the joy art has given him throughout his life, and Samet said she hopes people leave the lecture with a greater appreciation of artistic vision and realize it’s not always necessary to rely on external contexts in order to understand art.
“We all have an innate visual ability and intelligence to actually glean meaning from painting and from art without someone from the outside or a wall label or a press release,” Samet said. “If we give it time, if we allow it to, the work of art can reveal itself to us.”