Steve Karol in Pixel Perfect: The Digital Fine Art Exhibition

At Agora Gallery, January 26 – February 15, 2007
Opening Reception February 1, 2007

Hobby lands him in the spotlight / Lindsay Hanson Metcalf

The Kansas City Star

Things are happening for Steve Karol. The architect from Liberty has dabbled in Art for most of his 47 years. But in the span of a few months, he's landed representation at a New York gallery, a display on the cover of a local art magazine and artwork on commercial Christmas cards. Still, the work remains a hobby. Karol uses his computer mouse as a paintbrush over his photographs but spends days at HMN Architects Inc in the Overland park .

"It's a passion", he said.

Karol gained representation last summer by the Agora Gallery in New York City . Starting in late January, he will be among the featured artists in the gallery's "Pixel Perfect" exhibition.

"Karol idealizes his photographs, uniting familiar photographic ways of seeing with a brand of richness and abstraction most commonly seen in painting." A gallery press release says. Karol draws most of his inspiration from nature, although one recent piece carried a political statement.

His 2005 sculpture "Icarus" depicts an elephant, donkey and winged swine stacked on a blue sphere. The sculpture – referring to the mythical Icarus, who fell after he flew too close to the sun on waxed wings – calls for a more centrist body politic.

The piece incorporated a pad for supporter signatures and toured Union Station and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Karol stopped short before following his original plan of toting it around the country.

"When (Hurricane) Katrina hit, I felt America had woke up to see what was going on with this administration" he said. "I didn't feel the need for it anymore."

Karol's work in mixed media has impressed clients. When Rae White began looking for artists for an after-hours art open house program for her local company, floor décor center, she turned to Karol.

"I had seen a lot of his work so when we started this program, he was just a natural fit." White said.

Karol has shown his work since 1999 at Northland Exposure Gallery, an artist's cooperative in Parkville . When people buy one Karol piece, they've been known to follow with a second or third.

"It's very fresh, different" said Michael Yakimo, an Overland Park friend of Karol's who bought two of Karol's earlier watercolor pieces. "I think of architects, I think of buildings and straight lines, and he's really not like that."

A New Jersey native, Karol has lived in Liberty since 1993 and is involved locally as chairman of the Liberty Tree Board and co-founder of Tree Liberty.

He studied architecture at the University of Miami but never took a college art class.

For years his photographs of area landmarks have adorned HMN's company Christmas cards. Now he'll receive royalties for his greetings cards.

His work was chosen from among 100 entrants for limited edition greeting cards sold on the website of Himme Productions, a Christian Card Company. One card features a snowy Washington Square Park near Crown Center , and another show Barngeat Lighthouse on Long Beach Island , New Jersey . To boot, he's featured on the November issue of the annual Kansas City Voices, an art and literature magazine.

"A lot has been going on at the same time", Karol said.

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