Art Chat with Stephanie Buer
Stephanie Buer depicts urban landscapes with impeccable precision, stark realism and plenty of soul. Each one of her works is a love letter to an abandoned building sitting forgotten in a marginalized area of a city. In anticipation of STRAIGHT OUTTA PORTLAND opening this Friday at Stephanie Chefas Projects, we took the opportunity to have a chat with the Portland based artist. Here she talks about her process, childhood dreams of becoming a ballerina, and why she loves the Pacific Northwest.
What was it about Portland that made you fall in love and decided to call this city home? How has living in the Pacific Northwest shaped your creativity?
I was originally drawn to Portland because of all the beautiful, wild landscapes that surround it. I love being in the mountains and living near them would allow me to play in them all the time! I moved here in the hopes of starting my career as an artist and I did not expect to find such an amazing, supportive group of fellow artists. I would have to say that has been the single most important thing in shaping my creativity since I’ve moved here. I work everyday with other independent artists who are doing amazing things, showing me that it is possible to make this my life and inspiring me to keep at it everyday.
Tell us about your process. How does a work evolve from conception to completion?
My work begins with image gathering. Every piece I make starts with wandering around the city looking for interesting landscapes and compositions. From there I’ll just gather together a group of images I think would make a good show or that I’m just really excited to work on, work out the compositions and then turn them into paintings or drawings. It’s not very complicated.
Your works for Straight Outta Portland are incredible realistic renderings of urban landscapes. Tell us about the inspiration behind this pieces.
I’m originally from Michigan and lived in Detroit for 10 years. That’s where I began this series and it is still continues to inspire my work. I go back to Michigan very often to see my family and wander the streets of Detroit regularly. These images are both of Detroit. The drawing for this show was inspired by a building that was one of my favorite’s to visit. It was called, Detroit Dry Dock Engine Works, it was down by the river, an old ship building factory. The building no longer exists, so I was excited to be able to capture it as it used to be.
If you could hang only one artwork from art history in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
Probably a landscape painting of Andrew Wyeth’s. I love his palette and minimal landscapes. Especially the ones with snow, I’m obsessed with snow!
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn't necessarily know.
I’m a classically trained ballet dancer. I danced and performed for so much of my life, up until about 5 years ago. I wanted to be a ballerina when I was younger.
If I were to spend the day with Stephanie, what could I expect?
Well, first off, I’m not a morning person so I wouldn’t be much fun until maybe 10 am. Before that, it’s mostly me drinking lots of coffee, answering e-mails and talking to my cat. Then I go to the studio and paint, draw, and chat with my wonderful studio mates. If I’m not in deadline mode my evenings are usually filled with training. I’ll go to the gym and either rock climb, run, lift weights or take yoga. That or we might go to the Mazamas Mountaineering Center. I volunteer there a lot, helping to teach mountaineering courses and that’s where I received a lot of my training as well. I would recommended spending a weekend day with me though, then we’d most likely be out climbing or hiking somewhere!
STRAIGHT OUTTA PORTLAND opens February 5th at Stephanie Chefas Projects, 305 SE 3rd Ave #202, Portland, OR 97214, www.stephaniechefas.com