It’s been over 25 years since internationally acclaimed, Emmy-award-winning artist Steve Tracy was first commissioned to paint the iconic The View from the River Cafe. The last in a series of paintings featuring several New York City landmarks commissioned for an exhibit at the New York Friars Club, The View from the River Cafe captures one of the best views of Lower Manhattan as it stood in 1996, painted in Steve’s signature vivid colour palette.
For Steve, there are so many stories held within the painting.
“I remember driving with my agent and friend, Shep Brozman, to The River Cafe, walking in to find the perfect view,” says Steve. There were no shortages of great views to choose from: the iconic Michelin-starred restaurant is located on a barge permanently docked beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Wall Street and Madison Avenue take centre stage in its NYC skyline view.
The River Cafe is frequented by stock traders, financial analysts, marketing executives, along with celebrities. In fact, the Rolling Stones used this location to launch their album Bridges to Babylon.
While the NYC skyline is one of the most photographed cityscapes in the world, Steve says there was something unique about that location, that view that he captured.
“As I was painting it, I was captured by the euphoric vertical thrust of Wall Street buildings and the bottles,” says Steve. “The image is capitalism. It’s democracy – regardless of how right and wrong it is. New York is the centre of North America’s capitalist world, and this painting has so much nostalgia and so many stories behind it.”
Uncorking the vintageThe original painting was sold to a well-respected patron of the Foothills Art Center, who also sponsored the Arts Center’s budget as part of the purchase.
“This vintage has been aging for more than 25 years and we’re uncorking it right now.”
Owning a print or an original, says Steve, is about more than adding art to a wall: it’s about owning a piece of a larger story.
“When buying a painting, you are buying more than a piece of art. You’re buying a souvenir of the story behind the work.”
This iconic print is currently part of Steve’s exclusive exhibit in the newly expanded Muskoka Discovery Centre (MDC) in Gravenhurst.
“The new MDC is filled with so many new, exciting exhibits,” says Steve. “We’re so proud to be included.”
You can view a collection of Steve’s most acclaimed works at MDC.
Connecting alpine and artIn addition to The View from the River Cafe, the exhibit also includes several pieces from Steve’s Extreme Skiers collection – which have become a favourite among collectors across Europe, along with Canadian buyers since being introduced in the Georgian Bay and Muskoka area 10 years ago.
Steve’s art reflects the breadth of his influences: from the many cities in which he’s lived – including his time training in New York City, and living in California, Hawaii, and Colarado – to Canadian artists like the Group of Seven. But his connection to the vivid, action-packed art featuring alpine skiers goes much deeper.
He started skiing in his late 20s and quickly caught what he calls “ski fever.”
“I went every weekend. It became a winter obsession,” says Steve. As he took to the slopes, he noticed the exhilaration was very similar to the one he feels with every stroke of his paint brush.
“Skiing and painting are similar, because when creating art, you’re not thinking about anything else. When you’re skiing, you’re not thinking about a cell phone call, or your workload on Tuesday. Skiing is a great escape, and so is art.”
In addition to capturing the adrenaline rush of the slopes, each piece depicts the grandeur of the blanketed mountains, evergreens, and clear blue sky, all of which contribute to the euphoria of the sport.
“Each work captures the infinity of the views, the vulnerability of the weather, the danger of the steep slopes, and the feeling of conquering the mountains,” says Steve. “As if all was made just for you.”
Creating commissioned piecesIn addition to his prints, Steve’s original art pieces can also be purchased or commissioned.
“I have a catalog of over 300 original art pieces available for purchase, or I can work with you to create a custom-commissioned painting to fit your space, budget, and personal tastes.”
His commissioned works are particularly effective in chalets and cottages with cathedral ceilings, where blank walls can soar 20 feet high. Specializing in large-scale art, Steve loves to work with his clients to create pieces that are designed just for them.
“We offer delivery and installation services to local collectors, and custom delivery solutions for our clients across the globe.”
From landscapes to still life, abstracts to action-packed sports, it’s about bringing a creative vision to life.
TEXT SHELANNE AUGUSTINE