Stephen Chesley (b.1952)

"Dams, Slight Wind" 1998 (Oil) 30” x 42”


Stephen Chesley was born in Schenectady, New York in 1952.  He exhibited a natural proclivity for drawing and art almost as soon as he could hold pastel and pencil which were often Christmas gifts from his family.

Growing up in Virginia Beach in the late 1950's, he was exposed to the "Beat Generation" of musicians, artists, and writers when Virginia Beach was still a seasonal seaside resort.  Self-motivated, he continued with his drawing and small paintings, along with exposure to local artists.

Throughout elementary and high school, the art spirit continued.  Collegiant exposure led to a meld of art and science with degrees in Urban Studies and a Masters Degree in Urban Planning in 1980 from the school of Architecture at Clemson University.  Graduating in a deep national economic recession, Chesley turned back to his art.

Spending 5 years on rivers and sea islands led him to explore his aesthetic, subject matter, influential painters and styles.  During this period Chesley's paintings and art work began to move to the forefront.  Recognized in 1981 as an emerging talent by the Columbia Museum of Art.  He went on to win top 100 in the first National Parks competition of 1987.  He exhibited at the Smithsonian, and in 1996, he was recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, Southeast Regional Fellowship and the Southeast Center for Contemporary Art.

Chesley has continued his painting, Characterized as poetic realism.  He also creates welded and carved sculptural pieces.  In addition he has illustrated Archibald Rutledge short stories and WS Merwin's poem, "Palm," the later a broadside printed in honor of Thomas Cooper Society's Thomas Cooper Medal for WS Merwin in 2012.  Stephen Chesley continues his creative journey with an art spirit in Columbia, SC.