Artistic Background, Career, and Current Interests

Steven began his study of photography while at high school in Orange, California, having a special interest in photographic special effects, manipulated imagery, unusual film stocks, and creating multi-projector slide shows with music. He also pursued video production and film animation.

He continued his study of photography, film animation and motion picture special effects while at UC Santa Barbara. Using a 35mm optical printer, an animation stand and a 16mm motion picture optical printer there, various techniques were explored to further grow in this field. James Turrell and John Haugse were Steven's key mentors there.

Following college, Steven worked for a company in Orange County which had just developed a state-of-the-art 35mm VistaVision optical printer camera system. In 1980 he began doing photography and special effects animation for a company in San Diego which was producing large 30 projector multi-image slide shows.

Steven struck out on his own in 1983 and founded Odyssey Visual Design, the first San Diego company to produce 3-D computer animation. Clients included Coca Cola, General Dynamics, Union Oil, Southwestern Cable, Metrocast, Honda, and TV stations all over the country.

In 1986 Steven produced the world's first computer animation film festival. A second show was exhibited in 1987, both being presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. In 1988 nation-wide distribution was arranged with Landmark Entertainment, showcasing the best of those films. The purpose was to raise public awareness of computer animation as an art form.

In 1988 Steven produced the world's first home entertainment video of computer animation, called "State of the Art of Computer Animation". He then decided to focus the company solely on producing these videos and theatrical presentations of computer animation. Pacific Arts Video distributed this first product on VHS and Laser Disc, which were sold around the world. The video won the "Best Video Art" award from the American Film Institute at their American Video Conference Awards Show in November of 1988.

In 1990 Steven produced the first in a series of videos called "The Mind's Eye". These videos featured the best computer animation from around the globe with original scores created by notable music artists James Reynolds, Jan Hammer, Thomas Dolby and Kerry Livgren. The second video in this series, "Beyond The Mind's Eye," reached #8 on Billboard Magazine's home video sales chart in the fall of 1992, being qualified "Multi-Platinum" (over 200,000 units sold) by the RIAA. Among the four "Mind's Eye" videos that were produced, total sales exceeded two million units. The artists received massive media exposure and also were paid royalties, based upon half the income.

Developing innovative new ways to showcase the talents of the world's best computer animation artists was the ongoing focus of the business. A key goal was to bring these "hidden treasures" to light via consumer products, which would also provide a revenue stream for those artists. A total of 25 videos have been produced, many being distributed by Sony Music.

Meanwhile, Steven has continued with his love of photography. His thoughts:

I think I have always been drawn to innovative and imaginative imagery. I remember eagerly waiting each week to watch a PBS show that was devoted to new video art, featuring video synthesizers and other analog video tools. Of course, laser light shows were a big thrill to me as a teenager also. My favorite film while growing up was "2001 - A Space Odyssey", which had a lasting impact and inspiration upon my life and career. At UC Santa Barbara my key mentors were James Turrell, a pioneer in the "Light and Space" art movement, and John Haugse, a prominent animation artist and painter. A few photographers whose work has been very inspirational to me are Alfred Stieglitz, Eric Meola, Pete Turner and Richard Avedon. I would say that combining unique and interesting synthetic imagery together with music has been the essence of my video art. Now coming full circle, I have returned to photography, which is a continuing source of excitement and artistic fulfillment for me.

As Steven got more involved in the San Diego art scene, he became aware of many very talented photographic artists here. In 2004 Steven organized, curated and judged the first Art of Photography Show, which was exhibited at the La Jolla Art Association Gallery in November of that year. Over 500 images were received, submitted by local photographers. 55 framed prints were selected and exhibited. There were over 400 people at the opening reception and 25% of the work was sold during the two-week exhibition of the show. The participants were very pleased with the outcome.

Following this initial experiment, Steven expanded the Art of Photography Show in 2006, moving the exhibition to the elegant Lyceum Theatre Gallery space in downtown San Diego's Horton Plaza. Photographers from around the world were invited to submit their images. And an important decision was made, asking Arthur Ollman, the Founding Director of the Museum of Photographic Arts, to be the judge for the competition. Over 9000 photographs were submitted by artists from 32 countries.

Steven was asked to be the curator of Contemporary Landscape Photography: An International Perspective at the Oceanside Museum of Art. The exhibition featured 40 images that highlight our integral connection to our surrounding environment and the changing aspects of our landscape. With images ranging from urban settings to idyllic naturescapes, this exhibit presents a diverse selection of engaging scenes from around the world. The massive opening reception was on Saturday, November 16, 2013 and the show ran through March 23, 2014.

In 2012 the Art of Photography Show was moved to the 10,000 sq. ft. gallery space at the San Diego Art Institute in beautiful Balboa Park. The number of entries has steadily increased over the years, totaling over 106,000 images from people in 85 countries.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Art of Photography Show is that the judge is always a highly acclaimed museum curator. Most photographers feel that having their work exhibited in a museum is the ultimate goal. Yet, getting exposure to museum curators is normally very difficult. This project provides that opportunity.

  • The Judges:
  • Arthur Ollman - Chairman at the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, San Diego State University
  • Hugh Davies - Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
  • Neal Benezra - Director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Charlotte Cotton - Curator in Residence at the International Center of Photography
  • Julian Cox - Curator of Photography and Chief Curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
  • Anne Lyden - International Photography Curator at the National Galleries of Scotland
  • Natasha Egan - Curator and Executive Director at the Museum of Contemporary Photography
  • Tim Wride - Curator of Photography at the Norton Museum of Art
  • Carol McCusker, Curator of Photography at the Harn Museum of Art
  • Julia Dolan - Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum
  • All of these projects have been providing value to artists at every turn, from first-rate viewing in the judging process to publication opportunities, well-attended events and lectures, photo industry connections and monetary awards.

    Early next year Steven and his team are introducing the next big thing, expanding exponentially with the launch of the PhotoCulture app product!