Internationally known artist and Portsmouth native, Steve Lyons, hosted an online auction to benefit the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund after the loss of his sister Beth Lyons, which raised over $5,000 for the fund.
Steven Hunter was a 2003 graduate of Portsmouth High School and after his passing, his parents Mark and Virgie Hunter created the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund in 2006 to honor their son and his kind heart.
The funds mission sets out to improve the lives of economically disadvantaged children in Scioto and surrounding counties by supplying basic needs and opportunities and fostering hope for their future. The primary focus is childhood hunger and it is addressed through Steven’s Power Pack Program, providing food for the weekend for elementary aged school children with financial needs.
“My sister and I were very close,” said Lyons. “We were raised kind of as twins almost, in a considerably impoverished family. When she passed away, I began looking for something, some way, to make her death mean something. Jane Saddler referred me to the Hope Fund. She put us in touch with the Hunter’s and in lieu of flowers, we had people donate to the Hope Fund. But I wanted to do something more meaningful. I’m very fortunate as an artist to have collectors from all over the world, I decided to do a collection of prints for auction to benefit the Hope Fund.”
Lyons’ love for painting began as a young child and by the age eight, he won his first competition in Canton, Ohio.
He continued painting on and off throughout the years and continued his education at Eastern Kentucky University. He then went on to earn an Master of Arts degree at Louisiana State University—where he majored in journalism and minored in art.
Lyons now resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts where his art career rose to acclaim by critics and collectors.
“My career just shot through the roof in 2011 and 2012, after being what I call a ‘weekend’ painter, so to speak,” explained Lyons. “I would do shows occasionally in galleries. I was selling seascapes and abstracts on scrap lumber off my front porch. It became pretty popular in the area. In 2012, an art critic from Europe walked by and kind of ‘discovered’ me.”
Known for employing a contemporary impasto effect that creates a heightened dimension on the surface, Lyons career began to expand into the global market and continues to climb.
In 2013, Lyons was the first American to win the shared exhibition prize at the Stadtgalerie, Westerland, Germany. And in 2014, he was also the first American awarded private mentorship with Finland’s premier living artist and designer, Markku Piri.
Despite the fame, Lyon’s remembers a time when he wasn’t so fortunate. Lyons is no stranger to hunger that the children in Portsmouth face. He and his siblings grew up in an impoverished household as well.
“There’s a certain invisibility to these kids, and that is more haunting than the hunger,” said Lyons. “People will look past you, and we’re all guilty of it. We all do it, because it’s so painful to register that we just go on by. When you’re a child, on the receiving end of that, it is scarring in ways that people just can’t comprehend. These kinds of organizations really help kids feel like their being seen, and someone cares.”
Eight prints and two original works were available for purchase through online auction. In the end, Lyons raised $5,000 for the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund. Five thousand dollars translates to over 1,700 power packs, almost 7,000 individual meals.
“It’s a living tribute to his sister, in so many different ways,” said Mark Hunter. “An auction is a lively, active thing. But also, he breathed life into it because these are works he’s created himself. He has such heart for the children and their struggle. Virgie and I, we just find it hard to come up with the words. We’re just grateful. We feel like we’ve made a new friend and it’s just incredible how this developed. The whole idea of an art auction is something I would’ve never conceived, not in my wildest dreams.”
If you didn’t snag a print this time, there will be plenty of chances in the future.
“I’ve made it part of my estate plan that the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund will have access to 8-10 prints every 18 to 20 months,” said Lyons.
Lyons will continue to tour and show his works in galleries throughout Europe and Asia and hopes that the auctions will continue to grow and allow him to give more on behalf of his sister.
“I wish she could’ve seen it happen,” explained Lyons. “She was such a creative person, she had a very successful career as a makeup artist in New York. This summer she was supposed to paint with me in Cape Cod. I’m sure she would’ve had a real talent for it.”
If you would like to see more of Lyons work, you can go to his website www.stevelyonsart.com.
For more information about the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund, you can visit their website at www.stevenshopefund.org or by searching their Facebook page “Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund.”
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-353-3101 ext. 1932, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara