Stephen Paul day lives in both New Orleans and Germany. “As a youngster I dreamt of going to Las Vegas.” Day tells us, “I did make it to the then novel Disneyland while visiting my family in Los Angeles, but never made it to Las Vegas before being whisked away to high school in Vienna. Living in Europe turned out to harbor the non-kitsch elements of what I had expected in the post-modern capital of Nevada cementing an aura of authenticity through centuries of creative culture of a much older and refined world. My wide -eyed enthusiasm for all things fueled with history and what I saw as elegance, significance and laden with something magical was born.

As a much older and refined artist I still longed to go to Las Vegas, instead I chose to study in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. My work grew to somehow depend on the energy of the ‘then’ and ‘now’ and how America reflects its European, African, Hispanic, Asian and diasporic cultures filtered through Disneyesque colored glasses. I became obsessed with collecting souvenirs of this process; populist objects cherished as relevant visions of a ‘better’ time or ‘greater’ civilization. These became models for much of my sculptural, and painted works.”

You can see more of Stephen Paul Day’s work on theArthur Roger Gallery’s website.

“ I pride myself on recreating stylistic norms and chromatic flavors reminiscent of a particular time and place while changing scale and context.”
Stephen Paul Day

"Queen of Mirth", the work I designed and fabricated for this project, suggests a spirited historical narrative of the Grande Dame tempting her men with candy and suddenly switching to lit matches. A nasty fun gesture that typifies the kind of dark humor I am known for. The format of the Matchbox was born in an exhibition in New Orleans entitled" Blame it on Vegas", a souvenir object embedded in historical and cultural context. I pride myself on recreating stylistic norms and chromatic flavors reminiscent of a particular time and place while changing scale and context. This format is basically a painting placed within the confines of a souvenir object.

"Souvenir" means simply to come back to something and often refers to memories and to reminding one of some event or place. The work I made here is more a thought about spirit and freedom and scale and creative gesture, the idea that fire can be fun and dangerous at the same time, an elegant play of historical painting and contemporary context. The "then" and "now" of my artistic practice is filled with many achievements of which I am proud. My work is luckily included in a number of museums and collections including the Corning museum, the Montreal Museum of Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Musee Des Arts Decoratives, Laussanne, Beth Rudin DeWoody collection and among others. I am proud to have had many grants and residencies including a Joan Mitchell career grant, a Krasner Pollack grant, two Kohler foundation residencies as well as a visiting artist in Canberra Australia, Osaka Japan, the Freies Museum. Berlin, and Experimental Glass in New York City, New York.

I told a little of the story as to the meaning and relevance of the work in the previous text. I was drawn to this particular image after designing 20 or 25 other potential images as it was less specific to Burning Man in general but I felt it captured a certain spirit around the general idea behind the event. I loved the historical stylistic texture as well as the power behind the Woman as a jester and image of importance. The format of the matchbox and the matches being thrown all relate to the base idea of Burning Man.

My work and especially my work with images and matchboxes are prevalent; in fact I have made over a hundred pieces in this format. This particular work is the largest I have done. The image was challenging as I wanted to be true to the texture of the original design and true to the time frame the narrative may have been made. There was a certain peculiar luminescent quality to the image, which was only possible through layering colors, and glazing, which is problematic in acrylics. I feel very good about the results. Most important to me in all the works I do in this format is both the overall quality as a matchbox, and that the work functions as a sculptural painting.

Regarding exhibitions, Day writes, "I just finished a major exhibition at my primary gallery, Arthur Roger Gallery, in January, 2021. I exhibit at least once a year somewhere and could attach a resume. I was curated into a major exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, Make America What America Should Be, and will be in the next exhibition at the CAC, Behind Every Beautiful Thing. I am taking a break now after doing this work and waiting for the next project!"