Steve Anderson is unique among the city’s artists in the fact that he is visually-impaired and is constantly presented with an obstacle-filled creative path. He didn’t start to paint seriously until he had already lost nearly 75% of his vision just five years ago. “I was diagnosed with the genetic, progressive and degenerative eye diseases Retinitis Pigmentosa and glaucoma in late 2008. The prognosis was heartbreaking for me, knowing I was destined to a life in total darkness in the near future. My entire life had revolved around my vision. Throughout my professional life I’ve won many state and national awards for advertising and marketing design,” Anderson explains.
“Desperately trying to put an end to my four-year long, self-imposed pity party, I wandered tip-tapping with my red and white cane around the historic district, studiously focusing upon the details of important architecture that defines our city. With my decades-long background in advertising, marketing design and art history, I became determined to purposefully create a one-of-a-kind, unique style all my own – an artistic style not seen before – one that could never be confused with any other artist. I’ve achieved that with my very own blend of photo-realism infused with bright, vivid, saturated color with a modern, almost neon palette,” continued Anderson. “I found new purpose, forged a strong will, and developed fortitude in the face of such a life changing event. I had come to accept the reality of totally losing my sight, and became okay with it.
Anderson says, “During my few short years in the art scene, I’ve sold more than 250 paintings. My periphery vision is nearly gone, the ‘straw’ through which I see has become so tiny, incessant bursts of white fireworks so bothersome, and a never-ending fog began to block what little sight is left; so I had to hang up my paintbrushes last year. And now, with just 5% of my vision, I’m quickly approaching darkness and it’s time to make some serious changes to prepare for that all encompassing darkness.”
“I achieved some very noteworthy success with my one-of-a-kind, very colorful, expressive representations of St. Augustine’s Gilded Age. I made art history by being the only artist to ever exhibit at Villa Zorayda Museum – I’ve had three successful exhibits there. My art graced the cover of the Saint Augustine Entertainer in 2015; I broke Limelight Theater’s previous sales record for an artist at their gallery during the run of a show in 2016. I was Galeria Lyons best selling artist for more than a year – right up till its closing at the end of January, 2017. And, I became the ‘house artist’ for St. Augustine’s newest, luxury hotel, TRYP by Wyndham – the only local artist asked to assist with the hotel’s decoration by installing 30 of my paintings in the hotel’s public spaces,” Anderson explains. “I’m quite proud of my achievements in the art world – and, they were made surprisingly under the most unusual circumstances that would have exhausted many artists,” beams Anderson.
“Preparing for 24-hour darkness is no easy task. There is little assistance for us blind folk to enable us to continue to live independently at home – it’s expensive to hire much needed help and expensive to get around in public. Health care and prescription costs are prohibitively outrageous even with Medicare – especially when one only depends upon monthly Social Security Disability payments as one’s only income,” Anderson notes. “After four major surgeries in the last year and a half, I’m nearly broke. There won’t be any more art income once the remainder of my collection is sold, so, I’ve made the choice to leave my home and leave my country for another that is less expensive,” Anderson explains.
“I traveled to Costa Rica this past summer and fell in love with the people and this beautifully wild and inexpensive nation. I hired an immigration attorney to secure a ‘pensioners residency permit.’ Along with the residence permit, it’s required that I enroll in the nation’s universal healthcare system which happens to be just a few dollars more per month than America’s Medicare, but much more extensive. Costa Rica’s healthcare system is all inclusive, has no copays for doctor’s visits, surgeries, hospital stays and nearly all prescriptions are free. Imagine, a country so welcoming to immigrants that they insist upon taking care of all your health needs, too!”
“Importantly, Costa Rica’s cost of living is one-third less than that of America. I’ll be able to create an inexpensive infrastructure around me by hiring local Ticos to help with a little cooking, cleaning, running errands, walking me to the market when needed, escorting me to a local pub and restaurant occasionally – all for much less than that which would be required anywhere in America.” Anderson continues, “It’s a bold move, and one I embrace whole-heartedly as a new chapter in my life, a new adventure with new challenges to overcome. And, I will be able to thrive in a new nation with dignity – everything is a choice, and this is one I’m proud to make. I will succeed,” declares Anderson.
Robin Wertz, owner of Zora Bora Gallery says, “Steve’s art has sold well here – he’s been an asset to the gallery. His story is not one about his blindness, but one about innovation and the creative spirit regardless of the odds. His has became a story of positive attitude, perseverance and inspiration – doing what one must to continue to live with dignity even under impossible circumstances that most of us can’t begin to fathom. That’s why I’m proud to host and exhibit his extensive inventory of such amazing art. Steve’s paintings have always been affordable – he’s always wanted to make his work accessible to everyone. Now, he wants to make his art even more affordable by offering a 10% discount during the run of this exhibit, as he prepares to seek his dream of living ‘Pure Vida,’ the ‘Pure Life,’ in the rain forest paradise in the mountains of Costa Rica.” Wertz continues, “It is rather ironic that Steve will be living in such a beautiful nation, and in a short while, will not be able to see any of it – But that’s what he wants – I and the gallery support him with all our heart.”
Steve Anderson’s “Going Out of Vision” exhibit & sale opens at Zora Bora Gallery Saturday, December 14, 2019 with a “Meet & Greet” from 2pm until 6pm. Anderson’s show runs through Sunday, January 5, 2020.
Learn more about Steve Anderson’s art by visiting www.facebook.com/Steve-Anderson-Art.