Last week I sat in on a figure drawing session with Joe Steiner and a model he's been painting for over 10 years. Joe, now in his 70s, has identified as an artist his entire life. His daughter, Lisa (also a painter) and my mother we're great friends growing up. The Steiner family paintings were some of my first introductions into the art world. When my sisters and I were younger, we threatened to run away and sleep under an apple tree. Not long after our threat, Joe, Lisa and my mom were in our bedroom sketching out a huge apple tree that stretched from the floor and bent up onto the ceiling. I helped paint the apples and when we were done we put our beds underneath. 20 years later I find myself in Joe's basement in Skokie, Illinois, again, drawing together.
Many of his models are from the south side around his old studio on Howard Street. Instead of paying to lug his setup to a figure drawing studio, he invited people from the neighborhood to sit and pose for him in his own studio. You can see some of Joe's paintings on his website.