This month's Spotlight features Board Member, Steve Shatkin! You may know Steve as a local coffee and donut enthusiast, but did you know he is an artist and arts advocate? Read more about Steve and his involvement in MAC below:
1. What is your connection to the arts? Are you an artist yourself or do you have a particular interest in the arts?
My connection to the arts is through my DNA! I am a trained chemist, but my mom was a ceramist and I spent my early childhood in tow with her to the studio. I recall being covered from head to toe with clay and having to strip down outside our house so she could hose down me and my sisters before we were allowed inside! Fast forward about 40 years and I have been fortunate to work with my dad, (an Apollo aerospace engineer), in our family metal fabrication and powder coating business since 1994. This checked my engineering / science box, as well as giving me the opportunity to explore my “repressed” creative side. I began creating metal sculptures out of scrap material, recycling whatever i could find around the shop. This allowed me the opportunity to develop a new medium I call “foil art.” I have been making foil art since 2010 and in January 2020 exhibited at our brand new gallery, The Mark, in Los Angeles. Sadly, the pandemic in March 2020 sidelined the gallery operations, but we are hoping to re-establish our presence in the near future!
2. What is your favorite art medium and why is it your favorite?
I am really fond of scrap metal. While I do love my foil are work, I am drawn to scrap “stuff.” I love trying to rearrange what would be considered “junk” into meaningful expressions. As a young boy I had a paper route. I would always come home from my deliveries, on Thursdays, with my paper bag filled with old clocks, old tools, and other “junk.” To my mother’s chagrin Thursdays were trash day in my neighborhood, and were my favorite day of the week. I never knew what treasures I would find!
3. If you could learn any arts medium, what would it be? Why?
Interesting question! I think I would like to learn about glass blowing! It’s always fascinated me how these artists make the intricate colors inside certain pieces. The “process” appeals to my science mind and the results to my creative side.
4. What is your favorite part of your role as a MAC Board Member?
I really love talking to people about MAC and raising awareness about what we do. As many know, Tracie and I own Mammoth Coffee Roasting. I get to talk to hundreds of people everyday and during these conversations I always bring up our involvement in the community, which always includes MAC. I really enjoy letting people know that we are doing something very important for our community. And when guests ask about “what else is there to do in Mammoth,” I ALWAYS direct them to our gallery across the street. Many people have come back to the cafe the next day to say they visited, loved, and bought something from the gallery.
5. Why do you think the arts are so important right now?
The arts are always important. There are so many facets to humanity and the arts are truly one of the most basic. Before science, before math, before engineering, humans were creating “art” in one format or another. From cave paintings to Stonehenge to the great masters of the renaissance, humans have always been creating. Sadly, as various funding options in our schools are being reduced, many extracurricular programs have been reduced or eliminated. These include science and math based, as well as arts and music based programs.
There is evidence based research that correlates an increased level of development in children with an increased involvement in the arts. Whether it be painting, dance, drawing, music… I believe this is critical, not only for children living in economically or socially challenged areas, but for all “people”, living in all areas.
I have seen first hand how “art” has literally changed and saved the life of another human being, my daughter. Without her involvement in the arts, at a critical juncture in her life, her life path could have been markedly different. She was on the edge and heading to the dark side of the force. But something “clicked” when she discovered ceramics in her late teens and she found her way to the light.
But that’s a story for another article.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little about me and my involvement in MAC. I’m happy to share more experiences and stories anytime. You can always find me around town, at the cafe, or online. Thanks!