This is Steve. He lives in La Mirada next to Mike's Burgers on Imperial Hwy. There is a vacant field adjacent to the restaurant's parking lot and at the far end of that field is a long, cinder block wall lined with overgrown shrubs and trees. At the right end of this overgrown wall sits a large storage container-- behind and around this spot is where Steve Flath has been living for the past couple years.
How I even found this man is a miracle in itself. He is so hidden away and out of public sight that most of his life is spent alone, looking out into the field. The morning I found him was not at all routine for me-- after having breakfast with a friend at Mike's Restaurant I noticed the field from the parking lot and decided to explore outside. I happened to notice him and his things as I was walking through the field and thought I should go over and talk to him.
I also thought that this would probably be a good opportunity to do a portrait of someone in need, like I've been wanting to do for years now. [read here]
I was very hesitant to go over to him though-- a lot of doubts came up in my mind of my ability, the safety of the situation, the timing, lack of art supplies-- but I knew I had to put all that behind me and eventually I decided to go over and talk with him.
I walked back to my car, thinking about all this, grabbed some supplies to draw and began to make my way back to him. I decided to begin by first drawing this surrounding landscape and as I drew, I cautiously approached him. From far away, I could see that he was cloaked by the shadow of the low trees, along with his piles of things, and was sitting, settled against the wall and wide awake, but without an inch of movement.
I said hello, and as I got talking to him I learned that he has been camped there for over two years, just trying to survive and stay out of sight from the public or the police. He has been living a life of addiction and leisure over the years, and as a result his senses have deteriorated along with his physical health.
I looked behind me and told him that I loved the place he had chosen to settle down. I showed Steve the landscape drawing that I had started and told him that as I was drawing and admiring the space I couldn't help but notice him. I asked if I could sit with him and draw his portrait next to the landscape I had started, as he seemed so connected to the place.
He agreed, invited me to come sit next to him, and we sat and talked together for about an hour as I drew his portrait.
Steve Flath & The Land
graphite on paper
Steve is in somewhat of a hole now, and I know he will not be able to improve his situation, materially or spiritually, without someone coming along side of him.
On a basic physical level, he kept on talking about how cold the nights were as the winter was approaching and mentioned his
need for a blanket. On a spiritual level, I think he needs community and reorientation.
I am putting this drawing up for sale here on my blog for any one of you readers to buy. I am going to use the money to continue to come alongside Steve in his material and spiritual poverty
I will sell the drawing for $75.00-- which will be invested to aid Steve with:
--his physical needs--
- purchasing a good blanket
- purchasing a meal every time I come to visit
--his spiritual needs--
If you buy this drawing, you are not only investing in a meaningful piece of art, you are also choosing to invest in Steve's hope for a better life.
- supplementing the costs of transportation necessary to meet with Steve regularly
- I will continue to take time with Steve, and do all I can in these next weeks to get him into a local rehabilitation program (Union Rescue Mission) so he can get his life back on track.
I also hope...
that the art would serve to bring Steve and others like him to the forefront of your prayers
Please call or email me if you are interested.
I will help by supplementing the ready-to-hang drawing with a displayable statement of the project and what the artwork means in terms of your investment. If more than one person wants to help, I will arrange reproductions of the work to be made. That would be very exciting.