Phel Steinmetz, Artist/Photographer - 1944-2013

Phel Steinmetzís photographic skills were mostly self-taught, except for a two-year period of casual study in Carmel, Ca, primarily with Ansel Adams and Wynn Bullock in the late Ď60s. He became a commercial freelance photographer after graduating high school in 1961 and before joining the art department faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1971 (professor emeritus 2011). His work has been shown in many art venues: some examples are, the Long Beach Museum, Long Beach, CA; Womanspace, Los Angeles, CA; the Downtown Whitney Museum, New York, NY; the Kitchen, New York, NY; the Focus Gallery, San Francisco, CA; The San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA; Camerawork Gallery, San Francisco, CA; and in museums and institutions in Germany, Italy, and Sri Lanka.

Born in Des Plaines, IL, Steinmetzís family moved to El Cajon, CA when he was two and a half where he grew up on a small ranch. Inspired by a mystical experience while viewing a photograph, at age 11, he decided to become a photographer. The arid landscape of Southern California and its rapid development gradually became the focus for his environmental photography. His artworks question why we create a schism between the natural and the constructed, and often suggest we become more holistically responsible for the changes we produce in our environment.

During the past 41 years, Steinmetz has constructed 20 one-of-a-kind photo books, including the six volume family portrait "Somebodyís Making a Mistake", an ongoing series of photo-couplets focusing primarily on recreational landscape, as well as a body of photo-panel works mapping land development, parks, and open space in the Southwest.

In 2013, Steinmetz completed his final book/performance "Narcissus' Brother", using shadow imagery to reflect on the self in space and time. A limited edition of 50 copies was printed in 2014.

Phel Steinmetz was also the photographic collaborator and photographer for other artists, including Eleanor Antinís "100 Boots" and "Angel of Mercy", Allen Kaprow's "Standards", Joyce Cutler Shaw's "Lady and the Bird" and "Water's of the World", among others.