By Barbara Eicker —
OAKHURST — It’s been an amazing journey, but Stephen Stavast, owner of Stavast Studio/Gallery, will be closing his doors in Oakhurst after more than 26 years in business.
In 1992, Stavast opened his fine art gallery on Highway 41 — the second gallery to open in what is now known as Gallery Row.
During that time, seasoned and new art collectors discovered his works and started adding Stavast originals to their collections. Through the years, his collectors became more than purchasers of his works, many have become life-long friends. Then, people requested that he also reproduce his originals as fine art prints on canvas. What started with three print images in 2001 has become an offering of over fifty hand-signed and numbered limited-edition prints.
Through the years Stavast Studio/Gallery has also exhibited the diverse works of other fine artists. The intricately carved and inlay wood pieces by local artist Christopher Cantwell are currently on display.
While owning his own gallery, Stavast has shown in other fine art galleries in locations such as Carmel and Aspen. Over the years, he participated in the annual Celebration of Fine Art in Scottsdale, Arizona, where juried artists are invited to set up their own studios within white tents. During the three-month show, they can be seen creating and selling their works to collectors from all over the world.
Through the ups and down of the volatile economic climate, Stavast has kept his doors open, creating new works that invite the viewers to get up close and personal to appreciate his adept brush work and use of colors. Visitors can be heard saying how gazing at his paintings is like “being right there in nature.”
In the past Stavast, has contributed to many local causes. Late last year he donated a portion of his sales to Manna House in Oakhurst. Continuing in this effort, Stavast has pledged ten percent of the 2018 gallery sales of his work to the local Manna House.
In 2015, Stavast almost died after suffering a double aortic aneurism — the surgeons performed a miracle. But, while he was sedated, Stavast suffered a stroke and it took many months before he could pick up a brush again. By persevering through his challenging recovery process he was finally able to return to painting.
Last summer further health complications landed Stavast in ICU for almost three months. Many people came by his gallery during that time only to find it closed with no note on the door mentioning his hospitalization.
“It wasn’t the time I spent in the hospital that cost me money,” says Stavast, “it was the fact that my gallery was closed for so long, with no explanation as to why.”
Recently Stavast has felt that it might be time to close his gallery for good.
“Coming in on a daily basis is more challenging now. One of the things I will miss the most is the interactions with people who come into my gallery.” Then he adds, “Who knows, perhaps in the future I will use this space to teach the occasional painting workshop.”
To begin the process of closing his gallery, Stavast has been selling his limited-edition prints for 40 percent of their retail price. You’re invited to stop by the gallery, visit with Stephen and view his works. While you’re there, make the artist an offer and you may end up with incredible works of art at some very special prices.
Stavast plans to continue to show his works in other galleries. Currently, some of his paintings are hanging in the New Masters Gallery in Carmel. Stavast Studio/Gallery located at 40982 Hwy 41, Suite 2 and is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
StavastStudioGallery.com (559) 683-0611