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Steve Simon was raised outside Chicago by immigrant parents from Luxembourg. As a youth, Simon enjoyed drawing but eventually pursued more technical interests. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Simon practiced engineering in Germany. He later returned to Chicago to work as a management consultant.
While in Chicago, Simon participated in oil painting workshops in the evenings but still did not consider an art career. Still searching for his calling, Simon chose to pursue an MBA in international business during which he studied in Paris, New York, Tokyo, and nine other cities throughout eastern Europe and Asia. At this point, his travels had brought him to over thirty countries as the cultural exposure continued to fuel the latent artist.
After receiving his MBA, Simon accepted a consulting assignment in Paris. Here he could explore the art world which so intrigued him. In his free time, he visited art museums and painted in his studio apartment in the famous artist’s quarter of Montmartre. Upon completing the Paris assignment, it became clear to him that the artist within must be acknowledged.
It was then Simon made the decision to pursue his real passion. In 1994, at age twenty-nine, he moved to California to start his art career. He has since produced over 300 oil paintings, published seven art books of his work, created a broad selection of limited edition, canvas giclée prints, and owned an operated his own gallery on scenic Balboa Island, California for eight years. His collectors include a wide variety of private, corporate, and government clientele, domestically and internationally.
In 2007, Simon moved to the beautiful Red Rock Country of Arizona where he is currently working on a collection of paintings depicting history’s great peacemakers. He resides in Sedona, Arizona with his wife, stepson, and daughter.
In the Pursuit of Peace and Harmony
In my teenage years I began to wonder why we live the way we do, especially in terms of what we devote our time to. I recall being horribly confused by the notion of choosing a profession that would be deemed “productive.” There was this inner voice that wanted to be heard but spoke too softly to rise above the din. Instead, I listened to seemingly sage advice and pursued a career in mechanical engineering and later as a management consultant, adding an MBA along the way. These were all practical decisions for sure but not ones for someone who silently yearned to express his creativity.
Then, one day in 1994 while working as a consultant in Paris, the malaise snuck up on me. While attending a concert of Mozart’s Requiem something snapped. I awoke the next morning, took my hobby easel, paints, and canvas to Montmartre—the high altar of artistic inspiration—and began painting. That day I made the decision to quit my job and become an artist. I have never stopped painting professionally.
Clearly this was my bliss, the bliss with that soft voice that I was unable to hear years ago. Yes, this was it! I hastily moved to California and jumped right into opening my own gallery and publishing my own books. Friends and family gasped with concern and consternation and not without reason. The lessons came fast and hard. It turns out my road to bliss was full of unexpected barriers and potholes like so many of our personal journeys, whether we follow passion or practicality.
The road is well traveled now, marked with a variety of successes and failures. These lessons have taught me that our bliss, which I call one’s heartthrob, is best fueled by its counterpart—one’s heartache. Indeed, I love to paint but for our passion to rise above something greater than personal pleasure it must be hitched to our soul’s purpose. Of course, these individual purposes of our’s vary dramatically but they are always related to leaving our world a better place. As such, the marriage of the heartthrob and the heartache gives rise to that which is uniquely and soulfully productive.
So, what’s my heartache? In broad terms my heartache is the war, suffering, and disharmony of a planet replete with people disconnected from their own personal passions. My purpose is the pursuit of peace and harmony for myself and for others. It’s an almost foolhardy, idealistic vision but it’s one that yearns for a compassionate and cooperative world in which each is encouraged to discover and follow their true soul’s path. This is, I believe, the path to inner peace and the gateway to propagating broader peace.
For me, this inner tranquility is discovered, for example, in expressing the beauty of landscape, which was my first creative muse. It is also found in family, pets, and friends, especially those from other cultures and beliefs who open my mind to new possibilities. It is found in books. It is also found in the exemplary lives of history’s great peacemakers. My current work-in-progress since December 2013 has been in studying, writing about, and painting these luminaries. They have so much to offer if we can only take the time.
So, each day in this artist’s journey is a new step down that path in the productive pursuit of peace and harmony. It is a deeply personal journey but one also meant to be openly shared. I hope to share it with you and I sincerely hope you might similarly share yours with me.
In gratitude and peace,
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