Curriculum Vitae

ALEXEY STEELE, born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1967, began his art training at an early age in the studio of his father, Leonid Steele, the renowned painter of Russian Academic Tradition of the Socialist Realism School.  He furthered his professional education at the prestigious Surikov Art Institute of the Soviet Academy of Arts in Moscow under important, internationally acclaimed artist Illia Glazunov.  Steele moved to Los Angeles in 1990.

Steele is known for his large-scale figurative works in oil and on paper, psychological portrayals of common men of society, plein air landscapes and for employment of art as a tool of social action in the form of public art and art outreach.

Steele’s approach to figure is rooted in the Renaissance and Baroque periods seen through the prism of Russian Academic Tradition.  At the same time, his works possess a modern feel and intensity in their peculiar audacity of grand scale, grand themes and content driven formal expression.

Solving various problems in the development of his mammoth works, Steele employs largely forgotten Renaissance period processes.  He is known for creating full size drawings, referred to as “cartoons,” which attract attention in their own right.  His portraiture conveys empathy and expresses humanistic ideals by giving noble presence of royal portraits to a modern day common men and women from the rock bottom of society.  Steele executes his life-sized portraits in a series of live sessions often publically as a form of community outreach. In his landscapes and seascapes Steele examines formal qualities of movement and distance while in his figure works he is preoccupied with dimensional underpin3ing of shapes.  The Russian Academic inspired approach to unity of dimension, tonality and color plays important role in Steele’s visual language.

Two of his unique and major mural commissions of large-scale original multi-figure compositions include The Circle, a 372-inch diameter, and the 272-inch diameter allegorical
work, The Soul of the Hero.

Alexey Steele was commissioned by the City of Oxnard a master drawing “Quiet Steps of Approaching Thunder” for the permanent collection of the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California.

PUBLIC ART

In 2002 Steele’s larger-than-life statue “Angel of Unity”, was installed at the Comerica Bank Towers in downtown Los Angeles as part of A Community of Angeles Art Project in Los Angeles. Representing artist’s personal contemplation of the tragedy of 9/11 It was placed at the highly visible juncture of Downtown LA’s two major freeways 110 and 5 and was seen by estimated 30000 motorists a day for over two years.

Content and function of art within society play important part in Alexey’s views on art-making, relevant for our contemporary world.  Following in the tradition of his late father, Alexey is a proponent of art as an active tool of social action and community engagement in the form of public art.  Upon founding his studio in Carson in 2005, Steele began working on My Neighbor Series inspired by one of statistically most diverse cities in the nation.  The concept of the series is to capture uniquely inspiring local heroes who command a special universal love and admiration even within most difficult neighborhoods.

As part of his series Alexey Steele was commissioned by the neighboring CSU Dominguez Hills a painting entitled “Learners of Dominguez: Howard, Jenika, Auburn, Chris, Ronald” to officially commemorate the 50th anniversary of the campuses, just like the whole city of Carson one of the most diverse in the nation. The work was hailed by the media as “Capturing the Soul of a Diverse Campus.”

In 2015-2018 Alexey Steele was awarded grants by The City of Carson Cultural Arts Commission as well as additional 2016 – 2018 grants by Wells Fargo Bank to continue his work on the “My Neighbor Series”.  With the series at the center Steele built his public art project “Love My Neighbor” with the goal to introduce into our contemporary society a credible unifying message through compelling images and stories of the beloved and inspiring diverse neighbors who serve as unique binders of local community.

In 2016 Wells Fargo Bank participated in the project as the exhibiting partner.  At two public venues in the period of one month over 40,000 Carson residents visited the installations.

Starting in 2016 Alexey made the focus of his public art project the notorious “Scottsdale” neighborhood of Carson, one of the glaring examples of multi-generational urban failures in the contemporary America.

The process of creating his portrayals on-site in the series of live sessions open to public became a unique way of community engagement that never happened there before.  It opened the door into the community and built the trust with the residents of this difficult, long- marginalized and neglected neighborhood, created the opportunity for continuous engagement in this notoriously hard to set foot in community.

In 2017 collaboration with 501 (c) 3 non-profit Artward Initiative Alexey Steele founded the non-profit Artward! Gallery “Scottsdale” to directly engage this most underserved community of Carson with Love My Neighbor public art project.

The project has delivered a measurable impact:

  • Alexey Steele and his Love My Neighbor public art project are credited by local activists and public officials for playing significant part in the community turnaround effort.
  • With his public art project Alexey Steele fascilitated closer tactical cooperation on gang intervention between Carson Sheriff’s Department and “Scottsdale’s” security team.
  • Alexey Steele’s Love My Neighbor public art project is instrumental in bringing attention and affecting the city policy toward “Scottsdale” neighborhood of Carson.

In 2018 the Artward Initiative non-profit was awarded the prestigious California Arts Council federally funded state grant to support its outreach work and maximizing the opportunities for community engagements opened up by Alexey Steele’s public art project in “Scottsdale”, Carson.

In 2018 in partnership with Bank of America  volunteer team  Alexey Steele conceptualized and launched in the city of Carson Love My Neighbor Day centered around outreach programs of Love My Neighbor public art project.

In 2019 the Artward Initiative was awarded a rare grant from Bank of America Foundation to continue and expand the Love My Neighbor project. With this grant Alexey Steele spearheded the partnership between Carson Sherriiff’s Department nationally recognized Gang Divertsion Team (GDT), Bank of America Better Money Habits community volunteer team and Artward Initiative to create Love My Neighbor GangOut Program.

In 2019 Alexey Steele and his Love My Neighbor Public Art Project in Carson were selected as a 2019 California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS) Building Community Award of Excellence recipient in the important Social Equity category.

In 2020 in response to the advant of the COVID-19 pandemic Alexey Steele and Artward Initiative had successfully pivoted their award winning program to the needs of the community in midst of national emergency combining emergency food relief with emotional support of kids art to the elderly at risk.

In 2020 Alexey Steele had been appointed by the City Council of Culver City where artist resides as the first Artist Laureate of Culver City.

Throughout 2020 – 2021 Alexey Steele and his Artist Laureate tenure was not slowed down by the pandemic and the artist adopted his award-winning program with innovative remote live portrait sessions and live casts translating his pandemic experiences into a new body of work of the Love My Neighbor Series.

In May 2021 in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic lock down and closure of all art institutions in collaboration with Helms Design Center Alexey Steele helped develop the art light installation “Projecting Possibilities” and was the first artist to be featured.

In February 2022 within the first days of the tragic war in Ukraine Alexey Steele launched the website www.peaceforukraine.org urging to emphasize the need for peace in Ukraine as well as in the rest of the world.

In March 2022 in collaboration with Helms Design Center, Alexey Steele initiated and produced the public art light installation “Projecting for Peace” with curated imagery from the collection of work by his late father, Leonid Steele, an important Ukrainian artist of the 50s, 60s and 70s, celebrated for his powerful and compelling depictions of the Ukrainian people and of the Ukrainian nation.

In May 2022 in response to the invasion of Ukraine Alexey Steele co-organized a benefit concert at the Frost Auditorium in Culver City which raised over $117,000 for emergency medical supplies for Ukraine people via Direct Relief non-profit.

In 2022 Alexey Steele have established collaboration between his Love My Neighbor Project and Los Angeles County program LA vs. Hate in preparation for United Against Hate Week.

In November 2022 Alexey Steele conceptualized, developed and conducted a series of Love My Neighbor – United Against Hate cross messaging events and pop-up shows commemorating United Against Hate Week and in collaboration with LA vs Hate

On November 13, 2022 Alexey Steele held a Live My Neighbor – United Against Hate live portrait event of the Fox Hills community icon Candance Pilgram-Simmons at the Wende Museum in collaboration with LA vs Hate.

In January 2023 Alexey Steele have completed his extended three year tenure as the first Artist Laureate of Culver City and is credited with foundational impact on establishing an important city art program.

PRESS AND EXHIBITIONS

Alexey Steele and his work is subject of numerous Art and Mass Media publications including “Fine Art Connoisseur”, “American Artist” featuring on its two covers, “American Arts Quarterly”, “Southwest Art”, “Gramophone” in London and of an in-depth profile on the front page of Arts and Books Section by The Los Angeles Times.

He has participated in numerous exhibitions including at the Fleicher Museum of Art in Scottsdale, Arizona, in exhibitions at the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art; Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University in Malibu; Natural History Museum of LA County, Pasadena Museum of California Art, The Autry National Center Museum, Phippen Museum in Prescott, Arizona; University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center in Fayetteville; at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles in Los Angeles, Cape Cod Museum of Art; he had his one man show “Outside Constraints” in Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California.

At the tri-annual “On Location In Malibu” exhibition at Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University Alexey Steele’s work had a distinction of being featured on the main banner of the museum twice.

In 2017 Alexey Steele’s painting “Ricky of Carson” from “My Neighbor Series” was placed on the title wall of the 106th Annual Gold Medal Exhibition of the California Art Club at Autry Museum of the American West.

Alexey Steele was commissioned by the City of Oxnard a master drawing “Quiet Steps of Approaching Thunder” for the permanent collection of the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California.

AWARDS AND THEORY

Alexey Steele is a 2009 winner of the prestigious Artemis Award in Athens, Greece “for celebrating the power and beauty of women through his art on a heroic scale in the modern world particularly in his multi-figure compositions “The Circle” and “The Soul of The Hero.”

In 2009, Alexey Steele received Gusi Peace Prize in the Philippines for his work on turning art into a tool of International Conflict Resolution and for his “Fire of Peace” composition.

Investigating the variety of ways art interacts within modern society, in 2008 Steele founded the critically acclaimed Classical Underground, a classical music and visual art project examining the experience of artistic integrity in the modern world.

Alexey believes theory plays important role within art making process and helps the practitioner discover new thematic and expressive goals outside of commercially driven formats.  Alexey participated in the memorable organizational meeting of American Forum for Realism called on and moderated by Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine in December 2011 and from the inception with influential The Representational Art Conference (TRAC) sponsored by California Lutheran University, giving extensive presentations at TRAC 2012, TRAC 2014 and TRAC 2015.

Steele has coined the new art term Novorealism in March 2011 and is a Signature Member of the California Art Club.

Steele contributed to a book “Soviet Impressionism” by Dr. Vern Grosvenor Swanson.

Alexey Steele is featured in “California Light. A Century of Landscapes” published by Rizzoli and in “Painting California. Seascapes and Beach Towns, Paintings by California Art Club” published by Rizzoli.

In 2023 Alexey Steele’s works from Love My Neighbor Series are featured in the book “The Path of Drawing” by Patricia Watwood, published by M Studio

Drawing My Father

alexey steele

Mediums & Genres

Oil Painting

Figure, Portrait, Plein Air Landscape

Works on Paper

Portrait, Figure

Public Art

Sculpture, Installation

Art as Social Action

Art Interventions, Social Experiments, Identity and Branding