Art and commerce will meet in downtown Bethlehem on Friday, May 4th, when Pop artist Steve Kaufman makes a return appearance to the Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery. During the event, to be held from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Kaufman will meet with fans, sign autographs and introduce his latest series of silk screened "Jackie O" (Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis) images. In collaborations, Key Pontiac of Bethlehem, the sponsor of the event, will be introducing "The Aztec," one of the newest cars releases from the Pontiac Corporations. While not necessarily a unique collaboration between art and business, Kaufman’s gregarious personality and numerous appearances on MTV, Good Morning America and at the recent Art Expo in New York City have made Kaufman a well-known commodity. So much so, in fact, that the city of Bethlehem has agreed to cordon off Main Street, directly in front of the gallery, in order to "add to the excitement of the Art Show" as well as exhibit some of Key Pontiac's Trans Ams, convertibles, and Grand Prixs.
Kaufman returns to Bethlehem following on his successful signing at the gallery last October 19th when he debuted his latest "Marilyn Monroe" series of silk-screen prints. But whether it's the face of Jackie O, Frank Sinatra, Marylin Monroe or even Spider Man, Kaufman has made quite a dent in the art world in the past few years by turning renowned faces, classic logos and comic book superheroes into fine-art Pop icons.
"There's no a Pop image in this country that can top the portrait Steve Kaufman just completed of Jackie Kennedy," says David Donnangelo, director of Contemporary Fine Arts. "Steve is one of the top 25 artists working in the world today, so this is a rare opportunity for the people of the Lehigh Valley and surrounding communities to meet this incredible artist."
Kaufman is best known as one of the protégé to the late Pop Art icon Andy Warhol. After Warhol's death, Kaufman was even hired to finish many of the late master's work. But Kaufman has made an international impact on the art world on his own as the exclusive portrait to such celebrities as Frank Sinatra, Al Pacino and John Travolta, to name just a few.
Painting since the age of eight, when, incredibly, he had his first 'one child' show in New York City, Kaufman has since extended his career to working with Warhol at his famous 'Factory' studio in New York City and designing exhibitions and theme parties at such notable venues as Studio 54 in New York and Spago restaurant in Los Angeles. Corporations, such as Citi Bank and Saatchi and Saatchi, as well as personalities, including John Travolta, Wolfgang Puck, Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Murphy, Larry Mullen (of U2) and Spike Lee, have eagerly acquired works by Kaufman. Recently, Kaufman was commissioned by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to do a portrait of Van Gogh, a unique honor given to few artists.
Kaufman is also involved in efforts to assist those in need, dedicating much of his time and energy to turning young lives around. His Art Studio in California employs over 970 of some of LA's toughest gang members, often straight from prison. Over the years, Kaufman has independently created and financially participated in campaigns promoting such themes as AIDS awareness and racial harmony. "In the future, I hope I can make a difference in the world," says Kaufman, "not just artistically, but in a broader sense. I hope that when I speak out regarding a cause that it carries clout. I hope that I've helped people and changed points of view because of my position. I'd like to think that even though I’m able to expand my artistic abilities to include film making, monuments, etc. that I can still prompt a smile and the acknowledgement that I'm just a regular guy."
Born into the harsh realities of New York's South Bronx in 1964, by the age of 12 Kaufman had already had his first 'one child' show and was working at Macy's department store painting dog and cat faces on customer's Pet Rocks. At the age of 16 he was part of a group show at New York's prestigious Whitney Museum. Having developed a highly respected reputation for his technical ability, Kaufman was offered an opportunity to work with Andy Warhol cutting the film for canvas screening, a job that afforded him an opportunity to gain a different perspective on the world of art.
Leaving the Warhol Studio to commit himself fully to his own creative expression, Kaufman sought innovative opportunities to bring his art to the general public. He opened a one-night exhibition on four New York subway cars and often used the sides of abandoned buildings, retaining walls, and other highly visible surfaces as his canvas. As part of the festivities on May 4th, refreshments will be available and B104 Radio will be broadcasting live from the event with free give-always and prices.