In his latest series of paintings titled In The Hour Before (today), Stephen Hayes portrays locations of recent violence in America as seen from the vantage point of Google maps street views. Hayes contemplates human frailty and the collective trauma that can be found in everyday places, in streets and behind doors of public schools, nightclubs, or police vans.
Hayes’ nuanced depictions of each of the seemingly ordinary sites of Orlando, Florida; San Bernadino, California; St. Paul, Minnesota and Baltimore, Maryland possess an unsettling and transcendent beauty. His visually appealing palette and masterful technique belie their deeper meaning, creating unequivocal tension between aesthetic and content.
Hayes’ expressive brushstrokes throughout the series evoke a heightened sense of immediacy and seem to mirror the increasing speed and regular occurrence of human tragedy. Several paintings stand six feet tall, and the compelling scale allows for a visceral experience that powerfully engages and poetically entangles the viewer.
Stephen Hayes has shown his work locally and internationally, including exhibitions at the Portland Art Museum (Portland, OR), The Art Gym at Marylhurst University (Marylhurst, OR), Northwest Museum of Art and Culture (Spokane, WA), American Culture Center (Sapporo and Nagoya, Japan), and The Phillips Collection (Washington, D.C.). He has had several commissions for public art projects in the region, and his works can be found in the the collections of Oregon State University (Corvallis, OR), New York Public Library (New York, NY), Portland Art Museum’s Gilkey Center for Graphic Arts (Portland, OR), University of Oregon (Eugene, OR), and the new Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emmanuel (Portland, OR), as well as numerous private and public collections.