Steve Martin

"It's All About the Hair"

Steve Martin’s smartly trimmed beard and mustache and sweeping curly hair make him look like somebody from a Botticelli, Michelangelo or Raphael painting.

There is no doubt Steve is a Renaissance man with his finger on the pulse of all things in the local art world through his gallery – Steve Martin Fine Art at 624 Julia Street, television show — “Made in New Orleans,” Monday nights, on WLAE —  and his quarterly magazine, ART + DESIGN.

One thing for sure about Steve, he isn’t afraid to be his own style maker. Long curly hair may have given way to the trimmed GQ or Esquire magazines-look of hairstyles today, but don’t tell Steve, he is happy to wear his hair to please himself.

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“When I was a young, my dad kept my hair cut short so that you couldn’t tell that it was curly,” he recalls. “So by the time I entered Tioga High School, in the rural area at the very north-eastern tip of Louisiana’s Rapides Parish north of Alexandria-Pineville, I rebelled and started wearing my hair long.” Then he smiles and continues, “I came of age in the late 1960s and 1970s so Woodstock, hippies, and everything that went with that era was the style.”

Art wasn’t Steve first career, although he says he was always an artist. “I have drawings I did when I was four years old that my mother saved for me,” he says. “I use to draw horrific battle scenes on the offering envelopes at church. My parents would give them to me to keep me still in church. They said drawing was the only thing that could keep me occupied. I even won a contest when I was five which resulted in my appearance on KALB-TV in Alexandria. However, my dad was a practical man who supported my artistic endeavors but after high school, he helped to steer me in to becoming an investment broker so I could earn a living.”

Steve spent 26 years as an investment broker where he wore his hair in a kind of Michael Keaton Q-Tip look. “I began exploring art more and more until the art eclipsed my brokerage business and I had my own fist show in a New Orleans art gallery in 1992 and started my own gallery in 1998. The ‘longish’ hair came back with the art.” When asked if he has a secret for always keeping his hair neat, he quickly replies. “Aveda’s ‘Be Curly’ does he trick.”

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“Actually, Aiden, my then 10 year-old son, loved the Disney movie series ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and asked if I would grow a mustache and beard to go with my hair so I would look like a pirate. I thought about it and decided I could ‘rock it.’”

Steve’s art has been well received in New Orleans. His work covers a broad spectrum from wire abstract figures to metal cutouts, gouache paintings to collages. His large gallery in the fashionable Warehouse District serves as an ideal showcase for his work. He is quick to explain that he enjoys being an artist in New Orleans.

“Here people are celebrated whether they are infamous or famous, even the strangest characters are held in quizzical esteem, so a career as an artist is viewed as legitimate,” he says.

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And how does Steve describe his style. “I kind of like the look of the 18th century raconteurs,” he says. “For example, wearing a pink plaid shirt with a well-tailored suite and a flashy handkerchief in my pocket is a good look for me. And I always remember the advice of my dad, ‘Be sure to shine your shoes.’ It’s the one tip from my dad that has always continued with me throughout my adult life.”




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