In Gratitude for Steve Doherty

In Gratitude for

Steve Doherty

Hawaiian Waterfall, 24 x 18", Oil, © M. Stephen Doherty
Hawaiian Waterfall   24 x 18″   Oil   M. Stephen Doherty

   We first met Steve when we were living on the Hudson River in the tiny hamlet of Garrison, New York, in 1983. He drove up from his home in Croton-on-Hudson to attend our community’s annual on-location paint-out and auction at the Garrison Art Center at Garrison’s Landing. I did not expect that the Editor-in-Chief of American Artist magazine would bother with our modest little show with so much going on in New York City, but plein air events were a fairly new idea back then, and he was curious about it. One draw might have been that Garrison Landing is right on the river in the very heart of the famed scenic Hudson Highlands, directly across from West Point Military Academy.

   He was an affable and accessible person, and we connected right away. We invited him to visit our studio a few doors away. He surprised us by asking if now was a good moment. As we walked, we talked about how seldom we saw any other artists painting outdoors around us in the fabulous Highlands landscape and we all agreed there was a need to encourage more artists to paint on location. From that chance meeting, he asked to interview me and write an article about my plein air work on the Hudson River. Discovering in due course that I was also a decent writer who could tell a story, he invited me to pen more articles. I was floored by the trust and confidence he gave to an amateur writer whom he had not known very long. This led to many more articles over the years, for both American Artist magazine and Watercolor magazine as well.

   When one called his office in New York, Steve always answered the phone himself. Not a secretary or other gate keeper, as so many of the art directors I worked with at that time employed. Whenever I called him with an idea, he always stopped what he was doing to listen and offer encouragement. Steve believed in the personal touch with artists, knew everyone, and quietly helped hundreds of us along our careers—just because he could. Simply put, he loved art and the artists who made it. When Ann and I had the idea to start an educational website in 2010 which became The Artist’s Road, Steve was there to advise us and even agreed to be our first artist interview. Whenever he served as a judge for an exhibition or competition, one could rely on his unbiased selections which were unfailingly fair and informed by his deep knowledge of art. We have always felt very fortunate to have had both a personal and a professional relationship with him. We all will miss him dearly, for he was one of those kind supporters that artists always need in their lives, and I’m afraid we will not see the likes of him again.

A tribute to the late M. Stephen Doherty

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