Art

Richmond District sculptor’s artworks shine at recent exhibition

by Noma Faingold

 

Sculptor Stephen Fox, 77, lives in a rather typical Outer Richmond District flat with his

energetic wife of 13 years, Barbara Luzardi, 64. Once inside the flat, Luzardi gives a tour

through the living room, pointing out that nearly all of Fox’s small-tomedium, mostly

wood sculptures were missing.

Stephen Fox 1

A reception was held at the Far Out Gallery in July for Stephen Fox (right), a sculptor who gave a brief talk about his unique creations. Photo: May Woon.

“They’re all in the show,” she said, gleefully.

 

The solo show, which was held at the Far Out Gallery in the Sunset District through July,

is Fox’s first ever in his many decades of being an artist. Even though Luzardi had freshly

baked scones still warm on the kitchen table and coffee brewing, she comes off

more as her husband’s quirky agent than a traditional wife.

 

She knew the location of every piece still remaining in the house, including one of her

favorites made of  Cocobolo wood, which she admiringly placed as a centerpiece on the

kitchen table. The  sculpture is a combination of preserving the natural beauty of the

wood and smoothing out its curves. The abstract piece has elements of a woman’s shape

seamlessly meshing with the raw material.

 

“I won’t let him sell it,” she said.

 

Fox, originally from Los Angeles, spent time in San Francisco, the Oregon coast and

Hawaii before settling in San Francisco for good in 1977. While raising his daughter, Mia,

with his first wife, Diane, also an artist (pastels), Fox was a bartender. It was a living.

But what he did like about it was “every day was different.”

 

Among the places Fox worked included a long stint at the Courtyard, which

used to be located at 26th Avenue and Clement Street, and Enrico’s in the North

Beach. In those years, the self-taught artist spent as much as time allowed in his

garage workshop refining his technique and skills. His style also evolved.

 

“Craftsman and artist are one in the same,” he said. “You have to learn the

craft.”

Stephen Fox 2

Stephen Fox works in his home studio creating a piece depicting Josephine Baker.
Photo: Noma Faingold

Fox admits his drawing skills held him back for a few years, since it’s an important

part of his process. He starts with an idea, sketches it on a piece of paper and

cuts out a “template,” which he also refers to as the “silhouette,” providing the general

shape and scale of the artwork. His workshop is fully equipped with tools, saws and

finishing gear, which he uses when he works with wood or other mediums,

such as soap stone, alabaster and acrylic.

 

Fox also uses another room in the house for the less industrial aspects of his

work. A part of the backyard is a designated work space, as well. He estimates

that he has created 300-400 pieces over the years. While some were more practical,

like bowls and serving spoons he would give to friends, he also went through a lengthy

period of sculpting birds, which proved to be objects people would buy.

His creations are modern, delicate and accessible.

 

“I don’t make a social statement,” Fox said with assurance and zero pretension.

“I’m not that kind of artist.”

 

Influences in his work include “African anthropology, particularly the Maasai Tribe,” he

said. Fox is also an admirer of artists Henry Moore, Hans Arp and Salvador Dali.

 

Since he retired at 64, Fox has produced work at a much faster pace.

“I’ve done more in 13 years than I ever did,” he said.

 

He works on average of five to six hours a day. If he gets intensely involved,

Luzardi jokes that she has to entice him to come back upstairs with the aromas of

her cooking.

 

The recent Sunset show featured about 100 pieces, and was successful for Fox

and the gallery. By mid-month, about a dozen works, which range from $125 to

$2,500, had been sold. At least 50 people attended the opening reception.

 

“When people you don’t know buy something, it’s very affirming,” Fox said.

 

The Far Out Gallery has already booked Fox for another show in December, 2018.

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