During pandemic noted California artist kept showcasing special neighbors through his art in a technology powered virtual sessions

Noted California artist Alexey Steele was not slowed down by the pandemic and adopted his award winning program with remote live portrait sessions translating his pandemic experiences into a new body of work.

Alexey Steele is known for his figurative work in oil and on paper as well as for his award-winning Love My Neighbor public art project with his emphatic portrayal of diversity at the center of community engagement and social action programs.  In 2019 Alexey Steele was selected and appointed by the City Council of Culver City as Artist Laureate of Culver City and brought his ethos, mastery and experience to Culver City, were he resides.

From the onset and throughout COVID-19 crisis Alexey Steele conducted an emergency food relief and art program to high-risk residents of long underserved “Scottsdale” neighborhood in the City of Carson, California and brought an emotional relief art component to the Culver City emergency food drive.  Steele then translated his pandemic experiences into his new body of work bringing attention through his art to special Culver City neighbors in celebration of the enduring community spirit.

Throughout 2021 Steele conducted remote live portrait sessions with long time Culver City and The City of Carson residents who each left their own mark on their Neighbors. In his work Alexey prefers a live interaction with the model in a series of live sittings as opposite to simply copying a photographic snap shot.  In order to fulfill his vision and to continue portraying his special neighbors live for his Love My Neighbor project in midst of the health emergency, Alexey have developed an innovative approach. 

The heroes of his works remained in self-isolation in their homes maintaining contact with the artist via Facetime session which were transmitted to a TV screen at artists’ studio while Steele was working on his portraits as if his model was sitting right in front of him.  To make the live session public they were streamed live to Facebook and viewers were invited the same way as if the session were held at public venues as was originally planned.

The project raised awareness of the enduring strength in our community’s spirit, reaffirming our ability to persevere, overcome and recover as well as of protecting most vulnerable segments of our society at the time of pandemic.

“I believe art affects society and society shapes art. It is at the times of crisis when the community building power of art reveals itself to the fullest and I am eager to explore how my recent experiences will affect my artistic form” says Alexey Steele.

Arts are playing an important role in Culver City history and plans for its long-term economic development.  The city recognizes the importance to find new and effective ways of maintaining vital art component in the city life at the time of crisis.

From the official press release by Culver City
Alexey Steele describes this period:

“The following works on paper are from my ongoing Love My Neighbor Series and I completed them through 2020-2021 the time like no other. They represent three communities of my neighbors with different stories.

Within 1 week of stay-at-home order, when store shelves got empty we lined up food supply sources and started food and art relief operation, immediately pivoting our art and social action project in one of the toughest remaining neighborhoods of LA county, the infamous “Scottsdale” in The City of Carson.  We began delivering food and printed kids art to the most vulnerable at-risk elderly in that community.  Then brought this concept of combining kids art with emergency food relief to Culver City.  For Carson I personally delivered 35k lbs of food throughout the crisis.  

Since I dont like to do the portraits of my Love My Neighbor Series from photos and much prefer make them live, I developed a distant – live method of working with my heroes of the series over live video conference. I also developed the series of livecasts of my distant – live sessions to FB as part of my Artist Laureate of Culver City tenure that ironically also started in 2020.”