Melonie Steffes is one of those lucky persons who knew what she wanted to do with her life at an early age.
Call it a vision.
I dont really remember when I knew I wanted to become an artist; Ive just always done it, she says. I think a lot of it was the encouragement I got from my family. My grandmother was an artist and I spent a lot of my young days with her and got a lot of encouragement.
I remember in my teens I started calling myself an artist, she adds. I just naturally flowed into that as something I was going to do.
That calling is starting to pay off for the 32-year-old painter from Interlochen whose work is on exhibit at Gallery Fifty at the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City through October.
Those who visit the gallery will likely be dazzled by Steffes personal vision which has a touch of the surreal or the magical realism found in the works of Chagall or Salvador Dali. Images of disembodied brains, a flying cow, or of her husband Michael Callaghan dreaming over a pair of red shoes naturally lead to speculation over what the artist is trying to say.
Even Steffes doesnt quite know the answer, except that the symbolic images are a powerful new direction for her work.
Right now I feel like this is the direction I should be going in -- its like a personal mythology, she says. I dont sit around and think of what my symbols are or what they mean. People ask me what the cord is or the snake (in her painting, The Red Cord) and I dont know. People come up with their own ideas. I think thats great. Its their own interpretation and thats what I like about art.