Stephen C Wagner

Stephen C Wagner
Mixed Media on Paper


The modern world is a challenging place. We endure threats of nuclear war, international terrorism, economic collapse, corporate greed, rampant consumerism, governmental corruption, worldwide epidemics, global warming, and natural disasters. But we go on about our daily lives, basically pretending that all is well in order to survive with some semblance of normalcy.

These series consists of mixed media portraits configured of imagery from this threatening world. These “persons” exhibit intense facial expressions of fear, anger, shock, amazement, frustration, consternation, disbelief, weariness, caution, or numbness. Many are screaming and yelling in reaction to the surrounding world. Many are wearing masks, goggles, visors, or helmets, symbolizing the separation and isolation they must create to protect themselves and endure this bombardment of the world out-of-control.

The imagery is over-laid on images from found papers, including scientific, technological, mathematical and governmental documents, charts, graphs, diagrams, blueprints, and maps, depicting the ubiquitous pressures of the outside world. Most pieces are monochromatic in black, white and grey, reflecting the world’s bleak and colorless prospects, with silver metallic layers emphasizing the cold, technical aspect of this world. These pieces, however, are often tempered with playful composition and imagery displaying a naïve innocence, such as retro images from the past’s vision of the future.


Having studied art since the age of six, Stephen C. Wagner’s art education includes workshops at the Witte Museum, Trinity University, and private study, all in San Antonio, TX. During his early years, Stephen exhibited his works in many venues, including juried shows, art fairs, coffeehouses, and galleries. He obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas at Arlington in painting and graphic communication. Stephen has also completed the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education aesthetics education training program through the McCallum Theatre Education Institute in Palm Desert, CA.

Among artists that have influenced Stephen are Robert Rauschenberg, Pierre Bonnard, Eduoard Vuillard, Gustav Klimt, Mark Tobey, and Mark Rothko. Stephen feels that each artist has his own view of the world that he manifests in his work, a vision unique to him and no one else. The vision is crystallized in the art as a record of his world and allows this world to live on beyond that of the artist.

Stephen has exhibited and sold his artwork in galleries in London, Chicago, Dallas, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Laguna Beach, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, New Orleans, Galveston, Palm Springs, Sun Valley, and Kauai. Stephen’s artwork is included in the permanent collections at the Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, CA, and the Museum of the Living Artist in San Diego, CA. He has completed large-scale installations of his artwork for Johnson & Johnson in San Diego, CA, Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, CA, and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in Riverside, CA. In the media, his artwork has been featured in the film “Antwone Fisher” directed by Denzel Washington and featured on the set of the Bravo TV show “Boy Meets Boy”.


Stephen believes that the creative process contributes to a healthy quality of life, and that art provides an inexhaustible resource for exploration, reflection, and understanding. Each person has the capacity to respond to artwork in ways that challenge pre-conceived notions, stimulate fresh insights, and encourage deeper understanding. With these beliefs, Stephen has spent the last decade striving to bring art awareness to all by creating new art education programs, teaching art education techniques, teaching art classes, and advocating the arts.

As the Program Development Coordinator for the San Diego Art Institute, Stephen was responsible for all educational programs for both adults and children. He was a member of the Balboa Park Educators Council and Museum Educators Southern California. To train teachers to incorporate art into their everyday curriculum, Stephen taught Aesthetic Education classes through the University of San Diego Division of Continuing Education. He has been on the Advisory Board and a guest speaker at Ray College of Design in Chicago, IL, and an instructor and guest speaker at Harper College in Palatine, IL.

Committed to art education for youth, Stephen has participated as a teaching artist in programs at elementary schools through “San Diego Inspire!”, and has been a consultant and instructor for the San Diego Children’s Museum, an instructor for the Institute for Art Education in San Diego, CA, and on the board of Arteach in Palm Desert, CA. He has also taught at the Kauai Academy of Creative Arts in Hawaii.

Stephen encourages other artists to commit to their artwork and take the steps necessary to become more successful through his guest speaking on professional development for artists at art organizations throughout California. His lectures offer artists insight to jump-start their artist career, obtain clear focus on their intention for their artwork, create a strategic plan for their artist career, compile an impressive artist packet, and master the business of art. Stephen also provides one-on-one consultations with artists to develop strategies, goals, and actions plans.


Stephen has actively participated with the ArtSpan San Francisco Open Studios planning committees and received the first ArtSpan Volunteer of the Year Award in 2008. He received an Honorable Mention Award in the ArtSpan 2009 Benefit Art Show & Auction and an Honorable Mention Award in the Riverside Art Museum 2005 Annual Member’s Exhibition. His many activities and interests have earned him inclusion in Who’s Who in America (2000), Who’s Who in the Midwest (1998), the Outstanding Young Men in America Award (1983). He was the author of “The Shopping Bag: Portable Art” (1986), and has donated a private collection to the Smithsonian Institute.