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Justin Orvis Steimer

June 17, 2013

Justin Steimer

Justin Orvis Steimer‘s grandfather encouraged him to study engineering, instead he became a painter. From childhood, through art school, across far flung cities in exotic countries, Justin has funneled all the world into a scribble. On boat sails, on scraps of fabric, even on an ironing board, Justin paints and draws constantly whether he’s in Brooklyn, Peru or in the corner of a really crowded party.

Where is he headed in this lyrical scribbling? Currently he’s headed all over the world, to Switzerland for Scope Basel with TincaArt and to the Chicago 2013 edition of the International Beethoven Project. Justin was last year’s Artist in Residency and is returning this year to mentor local students.

From minimal techno tracks to vintage house, hip hop and classical, Justin’s studio is where he works and privately DJs many nights of the week for himself and for any friends who might be up for most of the night. Vinyl tracks on turntables spin while Justin paints. A feather dangles from a line. The sound of the subway floats in and out of the old school house loft, while a speaker he rigged with dubious yet charming wiring pulses. Justin would have made a fine engineer, it’s easy to see, but the world is taking notice and saying to sweet, hopeful grandpa: this boy is an artist.

1. What is your hometown?

new york city

the one place i am always sad to leave and always happy to come back to

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

the mad hatter

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

scarlett johansson

she has a sincerity and innocence about her

she is simultaneously plain and reserve and radiant and captivating

i would enjoy seeing myself as a woman

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

roberto matta was the first painter to really speak to my soul

he shows that other worlds exist by going in to your self

deeper and deeper and smaller until the whole thing flips and suddenly you are floating in an entirely

new universe (“To Escape the Absolute” 1944)

re-affirming the belief that it is possible to create your own existence

(“La Source de Calm” 2002 matta’s final work)

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

my dear friend susan recently sent me comanche moon by lary mcmurty

it is the last book in his lonesome dove series

incredibly vivid story telling, strong characters, grotesque details and a bit of magic

everything a good cowboy and indians story ought to be

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

my i pod broke five years ago, i mainly listen to records now

song is every little kiss by bruce hornsby and the range

album is sonnymoon (self titled)

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?

still cant remember

8. Cat person or dog person?


9. What is more important, truth or kindness?


10. How do you define sin?

un truth

11. How do you define virtue?

doing what you say you are going to do

12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

standard plain rounded top stone with my name carved on the top

below that

a carved arrow pointing east

below that

and an inscription that says

“went that way”

(i will have had my ashes thrown in to the ocean)

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

francis harris

Justin Orvis Steimer

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