What do Pop Art, Vincent Van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Rembrandt, neon gas and Helper, Utah have in common? Artist Ben Steele. Starry Night Hotel embraces them all and expresses his belief that great art and the great artists are more accessible today than ever before. Thanks to our online society, the greater the image, the broader the awareness of it has become. If Pop Art lionized the irony of our commodity driven lifestyle and celebrated the imagery of mass culture. Steele creates paintings that are affirmations of “culture” being popular with the masses.
“The big picture is right here, right before your eyes,” Steele explains. “I’m not trying to hide anything or be heady about it. Art that looks down at you because you can’t understand what it is about is no fun. I’m putting layers in so people can have fun and enjoy the process of discovering them. I would love it if a collector purchased Starry Night Hotel because they were taken with the image and was to only to realize later (spoiler alert!) that ‘ear-ily low prices’ was a reference to Van Gogh cutting off his ear.”
Big picture also describes the scale of Steele’s images. At first glance his sprawling canvases pay homage to his unique mix of Americana and the masters of past and present, but soon the subtleties of his use of light (in this case neon, lamplight and sunset) become apparent. “My process is similar to Rembrandt’s because I build the effect with layers of glazing,” he explains. “I can only imagine how much fun Rembrandt would have had painting neon lights!”