Artist Steve Simon has spent the last five years working on a collection of 38 oil paintings depicting history’s great peacemakers. The original paintings will be exhibited for the first time at the Sedona Arts Center Historic Art Barn at 15 Art Barn Road in Sedona from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily Tuesday through Sunday, Sept. 19 through 24.

A reception for the artist will be held Friday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m. A presentation by the artist will follow at 6:30 p.m.
The inspiration for the collection was Simon’s late father, who survived and escaped the Nazi concentration camps.
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“When I was just 12 years old, my dad sat down with me for five nights in a row and told me everything he could recall about those dark times,” Simon said. “Those conversations resonate deeply with me until this very day. They motivate me to leave this world a more peaceful place.”

The body of work spans a historical timeline from St. Francis of Assisi to Malala Yousafzai. The theme is based on Martin Luther King Jr.’s assertion that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” Each painting represents one of the many luminaries who have helped bend that arc.

The paintings will be accompanied by brief biographies and videos. Visitors using smartphones will have the opportunity to scan QR codes, directing them to videos of the art. Headphones are encouraged.

The event is scheduled to coincide with the International Day of Peace on Thursday, Sept. 21. The artist will be present and available to discuss his work throughout the exhibition’s run. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Simon is raising funds to finance a traveling educational exhibit, featuring reproductions of the paintings, biographies and videos. He is seeking a single buyer for the complete collection to help in these efforts. The collection will be published in the artist’s eighth book in 2018.

“There is so much to learn from these peacemakers that is so imminently relevant to our times,” Simon said. “My goal is to offer a perspective on the path we have traveled and the historical lessons we have learned in an effort to overcome the hurdles we face and those that lie ahead.”

Simon was raised in suburban Chicago by emigrant parents from Luxembourg. He is a self-taught artist with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering and a master in business administration. He previously worked as a robotics engineer and a management consultant. While working in Paris, France, he chose to become an artist, moved to California, and opened the Simon Fine Art Gallery and Studio. He now resides in Sedona with his wife and daughter.

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