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Cassone talks to Steven Weitzman, artist and businessman
In a career of over 40 years, Steven Weitzman has had a multi-disciplinary approach to public art. His art can be abstract or true-life representations of the subject. As an artist and sculptor his works have included large-scale highway and bridge projects, heroic-scale figurative bronzes, glass, terrazzo, commissioned art works, urban and environmental designs. As both an entrepreneur and innovator, he is one of very few artists who have been able to combine his creative talents with an impressive business aptitude and mechanical skills.
He opened Weitzman Studios Inc to handle art commissions and site-specific installations; he also founded Creative Design Resolutions, Inc. to address urban development projects and Creative Form Liners, Inc., the leading manufacturer of custom form liners. This year, Weitzman will launch Terrazzo.com – a website formed as a clearinghouse to target contractors, suppliers, designers, consultants, artists, builders and others who use concrete, mosaic and tile for creative and construction purposes.
This project is close to Weitzman’s heart as one of his achievements has been to invent a revolutionary process for concrete and epoxy resin terrazzo, FOTERA®. As an artistic innovator, he developed this new method for casting structural concrete in full colour, producing designs of any images he formed. With FOTERA® terrazzo, he is able to refine the traditional process to craft murals and other creations in full colour, all without the need for conventional metal dividers.
This year, the National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association, the industry’s leading trade organization, will present Weitzman with its prestigious ‘Art Special Award’ for his work on the History Colorado Center. This award is reserved for firms, architects and designers who have made substantial achievements in the artistic use of terrazzo. Weitzman created the interactive multimedia art installation called the Great Map of Colorado made up of 234 hand-crafted tiles for the Great Hall of the 200,000-square-foot cutting-edge museum.
It is not often you come across someone who is so artistically talented, but at the same time is building a business empire, so Cassone talked to him about his success.
Cassone: Do you see yourself primarily as a sculptor or a businessman?
I don’t think I would have ever imagined myself being a businessman in the manner that I am today. I’ve always been built as an artist and that is all I knew how to do. But there is the ‘art of the business of art’, which I have been a student of for the last 40 years.
Cassone: Can you tell us when you first realized that you wished to follow an artistic career?
My earliest memory of wanting to be an artist was somewhere between four and five years old. I had never ever imagined my future involving me being anything other than an artist.
Cassone: Where and why did you study art?
I have no formal training. Although I’ve always had a facility for this kind of work, which I have been doing professionally non-stop since I was 19 years old. This is the only job I’ve ever had.
Cassone: When did you first realize that art and business could be so closely allied?
That reality became very apparent the very first time I sold a piece of art…and every piece thereafter.
Cassone: You are commissioned to do many public commissions in the US. Why do you think this is?
I can’t explain why I've gotten the commissions throughout the US, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to do my work, especially when exploring new mediums and venues. I love the challenge to say something different in a totally unique way.
Cassone: Of all your public installations, which are personally most significant to you?
SW: A few significant pieces are the: my Frederick Douglass piece in bronze, the Great Map of Colorado, and the United Nations Caretakers Tree. My two most recent projects, both made of Fotera®, are the ‘Chesapeake Journey’ located in the National Harbor in Washington, DC, and ‘The Great Map of Colorado by Steven Weitzman’ for the History Colorado Center in Denver, CO.
Cassone: Are you able to tell us of any exciting forthcoming commissions?
SW: Currently, I am working on the West End Historic Walk, a 1,000 foot-long sidewalk installation which is an interactive timeline of the history of Atlanta that consists of 14 full-colour Fotera® panels surrounded by engraved pavers with historic information. With the input of active community members, each panel will depict a unique aspect of the history of neighbourhood and its community.
Cassone: Thank you for talking to us today.
Media credit: Courtesy Steven Weitzman