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Staff Spotlight: Jon Steele, Assistant Museum Preparator

Jon Steele is our newest staff member! He started working with us in March as our Gallery Preparator. As preparator, he will assist in matting and framing artwork, preparing the galleries for upcoming exhibitions, hanging artwork, and mentoring students.

Where did you move from and what were you doing prior to your job at UR?
Before moving down to Richmond, my wife and I lived in the Charles Village neighborhood of Baltimore, MD. After graduating with an art degree from Towson University, I worked at an art supply store and frame shop in downtown Baltimore. During this time I participated in the occasional art show and played in a few bands, most recently in a band called Boat Water. We just released an album this past year. Check it out! 

What are you looking forward to learning/doing in your current role?
What attracted me most about this position is the opportunity to interact with art on a daily basis. The museum has a wonderful collection and it has been a pleasure getting to go through it. I have discovered a handful of artists whose work is incredible that I had never heard of before. Andrew Stevovich, Mauricio Lasansky, and John Walker to name just a few. 

What do you like to do outside of the office?
Being new to Richmond I have spent much of my time exploring the area. You can usually find me riding my bike around town or lounging at the VMFA sculpture garden with a book in hand. There are some great live music venues that I have been checking out one by one as bands roll through town that I like. When at home I am working to build up my art portfolio so that I can participate in art events around town. I have been working on painting, silkscreen, and sculptures made from wire and fabric.

Favorite artist, artwork, or object?
It is tough to pick just one favorite artist/artwork/museum. I’ll give you a selection of what I am into currently. My favorite artist who painted a mural in the city is Waone from the artist team Interesni Kazki. The mural is located at 115 E Main St. and is spectacular. My favorite piece that I saw at the VMFA (about 6 years ago) was a collection of portraits painted on empty liquor bottles by the artist Barry McGee. I had done a research project on McGee in school and I was very excited to see his work in person. My favorite current display up at the VMFA is a collection of drawings by Francisco Clemente called Francisco Clemente Pixit. I stumbled upon them while wandering around the museum one day after work and was taken by the strangeness of the subject matter and the story of how the works came about. Well worth checking out. Lastly, I went to Washington, DC over the weekend and stopped at the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. It’s a must-see if you have never been. They always have great shows that come through and the building is awesome to walk around. The 2 shows that I saw during this visit that I would recommend are Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano and Artist to Artist.