Cindy Stevens Gallery… Just a Natural!
by RONA MANN / Photos by Jeffery Lilly
She wasn’t sure we should tell you she had no formal training in art, but so many of the great artists never took a class nor had a lesson either. In the world of fine art, a college transcript does not matter; the work does, and when it comes to an impressive body of work, Cindy Stevens has got it in spades.
It must have been something in the water where they grew up; but more likely it’s in their genes, because everyone in Cindy Stevens’ family is an artist to some degree. Her mother, Shirley Price, was a detailed pen and ink artist of enviable renown. Her brother, Dan Price, creates art for the Navy, while her younger sister, Sharon Price is a professional artist, well accomplished in oils. “All of them are very detailed,” Stevens says. Then with a laugh she adds, “and I’m just out there.”
But “out there” has worked well for Cindy Stevens who had a frame shop in her Clinton home for 25 years. It was called Snow’s Block Frame Gallery, established in 1990 when her children were young. Although Cindy was not formally painting in those years, she still had both her heart and hand in art. “I painted sets for the local theatre and the school plays. I decorated the high school gym for the all night graduation party. I dabbled here and there because I had a love of art.” But after all those years of framing, Stevens found herself developing arthritis in her hands, so she decided to concentrate on her painting.
It began with watercolors, but when Cindy’s youngest child went off to college she decided to try her hand at oil painting and instantly fell in love. “When I tried oils it just clicked for me. I love all the paints and textures.” Within a very short time Stevens became proficient working with a palette knife, and her work took on new perspective.
Suddenly she was gaining attention and building a following.
Stevens fell in love again the first time she disembarked from the ferry and laid eyes on the tiny island of Monhegan, Maine. Just ten miles off the mainland of Boothbay Harbor and accessible only by boat, Monhegan is actually a plantation with a population of just 75, but with a landscape that has drawn artists to it like a magnet since the mid-19th century. And Cindy Stevens was no exception. “I go there at least once a year. I have to go and paint there.” Arranged by artist, Stan Moeller, Stevens joins a small group of artists for the week who enjoy the solitary beauty of the island while deriving artistic inspiration from all that surrounds them. “I leave here, and for one week I focus on just three things: eating, sleeping, and painting.” Each year Stevens returns from Monhegan Island refreshed and renewed with breathtaking images dancing in her head, eager to meet canvas and palette knife.
Although her gallery space on East Main Street in downtown Clinton is small, it is never cluttered, is always well appointed, and suits Cindy just fine.”I have organized friends who don’t let me get carried away,” she laughs. In addition to her own work which runs the gamut from oils neatly framed on the walls, to hand painted postcards and signs, Cindy Stevens Fine Art also showcases the work of other area artists of note.
The town of Clinton means a great deal to Stevens. It’s where she has lived most of her life, where her frame shop was located for so many years, and where she chose to open her gallery nearly a year and a half ago. “I’m lucky that my husband, Gary is so supportive of me. He told me, ‘Just do it!’, so I did.”
Additionally Cindy gives back to the town in a myriad of ways. She’s always been an active part of the Chamber, volunteered her time and talent at the schools, and is a member of the Shoreline Community Women, helping to send goody boxes from home to soldiers overseas on an ongoing basis.
Together with daughter Amy, Stevens has created a wildly successful Art for Kids program where each Tuesday and Thursday from 4-5:30PM art classes are held just for kids, ages four through middle school. “It’s not a cookie cutter class,” Stevens explains. “We tailor what we do to each child’s age and individual ability…and we have fun! There is no long range commitment needed; parents and grandparents can bring their children for just one class if they wish. “We do a range of things with them…each week there’s a different theme. Sometimes we paint like Picasso, other weeks like Monet.”
And then there are the Cindy Stevens Fine Art Paint Nights. Yes, many places have them, but they don’t quite put the spin on it that Cindy lends. “It’s a party. You can bring your own wine and food, and I will personally tailor it for your group and your occasion. For just $35. per person you have my space, my guidance, my materials, and we all share in the fun.” Birthday parties, bachelorette parties, girls’ night out…whatever the occasion, Cindy Stevens will make the celebration of that occasion a work of art.
“I am so content with this gallery and being here in Clinton. I love my space and wouldn’t want it bigger. I love the location with the river right next to me. Do I wish I had done it sooner? No! It’s been a journey, and one I needed to take; so I’m doing it at exactly the right time. My favorite thing to do is to come to this place, shut out the outside world, have my head go into art mode, and then just sit here and paint all day. That’s my idea of being happy.”
And when you’ve found true happiness, no formal training is ever needed.
Visit Cindy Stevens Fine Art at 30 East Main Street, Clinton Phone: (860) 304-1666