This Contemporary American Life

This Contemporary American Life

Karla Enriquez, Staff Writer

In a room full of pea coats, beanies, and lumberjack boots, stands the photographer behind ‘This Normal Life’ whose opening night at Downey’s Stay Gallery on Feb. 20 delighted a well dressed crowd.

Steven Clouse, who started photographing a mere three years ago, showcases an array of impressive landscape images stemming from a Kerouac-esque three-year trip around America.

Behind the huddles of Pabst-drinking-lumberjack chic art dwellers stood Clouse’s work, which depicted the great American outdoors in morose colors that give the art a touch of sentimentality and drama that could only be obtained through a solo journey.

“I’m genuinely one of the happiest people that I’ve ever been as an adult, and it feels really rad saying that and truthfully meaning it,” Clouse said.

Clouse attributes this happiness to leaving his corporate healthcare job of seven years in Texas and taking on the road to experience the United States.

During the second trimester of his trip he began taking photos and thus ‘This Normal Life’ was born.

“I now travel almost specifically to take photos […] now my trip is pretty much never ending. I’m live on the road indefinitely, I still live on the road,” he added.

Clouse revealed that the fateful trip that was originally set to be three months in duration.

The artist’s sense of awe for his findings throughout America can be sensed in his work, specifically in a green tinted dramatic shot of waves crashing mid-air that emits chaos in an otherwise peaceful setting.

A separate shot titled Rocky Mt. NP, CO. depicts the beauty of the Colorado Mountains accompanied by a glassy lake reflecting an overcast sky and never ending rows of fresh green trees.

“For him to go and take these kinds of pictures really captures the American spirit,” says Marjan Adubo, a Downey native and UCSB student.

“He was just out photographing some of the most beautiful landscapes that I have ever seen, so it was that, that really got me,” said Gabriel Enamorado, the Stay Gallery’s Creative Director.

“I’m a photographer myself and I personally have never had a real job, I’ve always been the self-starter, so I felt really connected to it in a way that I’ve never done,” Enamorado added.

Clouse contemplates what comes next, “I’ll finish my show here and I’ll get back on the road. Maybe sometime in the near future I may make Southern California my home.

“I’m still trying to figure it out. One thing that being on the road like this, has taught me is that I don’t have to settle or do anything set in stone that I don’t absolutely want to.”

The exhibit poses the question, is this Jack-Kerouac-like ambition to take the open road essential to artists and self-exploring individuals alike? Are we all chained to material possessions, money, and stability that we miss our purpose?