Culver City Edition Local News

Alexey Steele selected as city’s artist laureate

CULVER CITY — Artist Alexey Steele has been appointed the city’s artist laureate for a two-year term ending in December 2021.

Steele will serve as Culver City’s cultural ambassador, raising awareness and appreciation for the arts in the city and the artists who live and work here. Steele will attend events, engage with the public directly, support and collaborate with community artists, and partner with the school district and the city’s cultural organizations and businesses to develop new programming. 

The appointment includes a stipend award of $8,000 in support of Steele’s work in the community, funded in part with a grant from the Culver Arts Foundation. Steele has already begun to outline a plan to develop artist resources and community programming for Culver City.

“We are proud to continue Culver City’s strong commitment to the arts by appointing Alexey Steele as our artist laureate,” said Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells. “His strong vision and immense talent as a visual artist, along with his extensive community work, make him the ideal cultural ambassador for our city. We are confident his tenure will be both productive and inspiring.” 

Steele is a visual artist with a background in the Russian representational school. He is best known for his large-scale figurative works in oil and on paper, portraits, and plein-air landscapes, and he has also completed large-scale public mural and statuary commissions. 

Born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1967, Steele moved to Los Angeles in 1990 and has been a resident of Culver City since 2013, where he lives with his family. 

He began art training at an early age in the studio of his father, Leonid Steele, a renowned artist of the Socialist Realism School of the Soviet Union, and he later attended the prestigious Surikov Art Institute of the Soviet Academy of Arts in Moscow. 

He has received international awards and his work is included in numerous books and publications. His work has been exhibited across the country and locally at the Bowers Museum, the Autry Museum of the American West, the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and the Carnegie Art Museum. 

Since 2016, Steele has been actively engaged in the Scottsdale neighborhood of Carson, where he founded the nonprofit Artward! Gallery and developed an art program for children. Steele is also the founder of “Classical Underground,” a music and visual art project examining the experience of artistic integrity in the modern world.

The artist laureate program was launched in August 2019, open to candidates who have lived or worked in Culver City for a minimum of five years. Applications from a variety of art disciplines (fine and visual arts, performing arts, and literary arts) were received by the Oct. 14, 2019 deadline. 

An independent peer panel comprising distinguished professionals from across the art disciplines was recruited to review the applications, each panelist scoring all applications based on artistic quality, potential community impact, and professional development. The panel unanimously voted to recommend visual Steele as artist laureate. 

“With this appointment, the City Council acknowledges the important role individual artists play in Culver City, advancing the city’s creative economy and positively impacting our quality of life, enriching our community with their exhibits, performances, presentations, and service,” said Cultural Affairs Commission Chair Jeannine Wisnosky Stehlin.

Wave Staff Report