Like many surfers, in his youth Steven Lee Smeltzer was enticed by the perfect waves and easy-going lifestyle Maui offered. From the moment he arrived on the island, he knew the Valley Isle would be his home. Mother Nature provided the surf, now Steven had to create a home and income. A form of work that well, wasn’t really work and that could be flexible, that would flow with the tides and his surf schedule.
Like all beings that channel for the realm of Whimsicality, he magically manifested a home in Haiku for the absurd amount of $100.- a year. That’s right, A YEAR! But the year was 1972, no Costco or Lowes, even Lahaina was a sleepy little town back then.
Steven’s Cane House
Photo by Linny Morris for
J. Fujii’s book Under The Hula Moon
Now the big question was how to make enough money to pay for such an extravagant lifestyle? It was time for a job!
While pondering this Steven decided to hike through Haleakala Crater to clear his mind. He came upon a lava tube and swore he heard his name called from it so he ventured in, but halfway through his flashlight batteries burned out and there he stood in the pitch-black environment. He tried to continue walking but it was too dark, so with a bit of anxiety he sat down and began to chant “omm, I don’t want to be here, omm may someone find me.” And they did. Though they weren’t in human form, these friendly, odd beings guided him out of the tube and to his new career of ceramic artist.
Sound farfetched? Well, you’re right. The fact is in his last year of college Steven took his one and only art class and was hooked. He knew exactly what he wanted to do for a living.
Steven has often said that he finds himself entangled in a web of nonsense…and he loves it. Inspired by everything and everyone, his creations come to life in his mind, then take shape from a mound of clay with the innate skill of a true artisan.
Each sculpture reflects Steven’s desire to bring a sense of lightheartedness to all that are willing to indulge in imaginative and fanciful art. Though recently a number of his whimsical characters veered away from the humorous side of life to the more sinister, with a starring role as antagonists in Wray Ardan’s young adult, dark fantasy, romance novel, Sweet Desire, Wicked Fate.
While Steven is most recognized for his whimsical ceramic sculptures, he also creates stunning bronze sculptures, as well as oil and acrylic paintings–and has even ventured into the world of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) animation, working as an Associate Producer and set designer on a CGI television pilot that transformed several of his sculptures into animated creatures. While working on the CGI projects Steven set up his business name as Ulu Productions, which is what you will see with his business transactions.
The Evolution of Steven and his Art
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