Natural Harmony

Faulkner County residents who are also art enthusiasts have likely heard of local artists V. Noe and Steve Griffith. Not only can their work can be seen throughout Conway and the surrounding areas, it can be found throughout the country in businesses and private residences.
In addition to being renowned local artists, Vivian Noe Tallman Griffith and Steve Griffith are also parents to four children, all proud University of Central Arkansas graduates. They also have two grandsons, ages nine and seven. “We are often asked if any of our children are artists. None are professional artists but all have a variety of talents in painting, writing, music and woodworking,” they share.
Vivian and Steve’s relationship began as work colleagues, which they remained for a number of years prior to their first date. That fateful date was fittingly spent at the Arkansas Art Center. “Though both unaware that the other was a total art nut. Since that time we have visited almost every art museum and gallery in the United States,” says Vivian. The couple has been married for 20 years in April 2017.
Vivian is a Conway native. Steve, a native of Polk County, moved to Conway to attend the University of Central Arkansas in 1977. “We have been earning our living as professional artists for almost 20 years.” Prior to that, Vivian was a speech pathologist and special education teacher, and Steve had a psychotherapy practice.
“From early in our marriage, we began spending every free moment on nights, weekends, and holidays traveling and creating artwork. We kept our day jobs as safety nets for a couple of years, since the passion to create art really has no promise of pay or success. After being fortunate enough to gain major gallery representation at Delony Newkirk Galleries in Santa Fe, we were able to make the jump to full-time artists….We are truly thankful each day that we have been fortunate enough to combine our passion and livelihood….We are living a dream.”
Vivian was born into a military family, which traveled extensively. “I was exposed to many different cultures and art classes. I trained in ballet beginning at age four through my teenage years,” she says. Steve was born into a logging family. They traveled annually to the Rocky Mountain States and the Pacific Northwest. “I can’t remember a time that I didn’t create art of some type, starting with coloring on the walls as child,” he says. “I also utilized art therapy as part of my psychotherapy practice.”
Vivian’s works are mixed media on canvas, which include acrylics, oil, metal leafing, and found objects. Her styles range from abstract to landscape and figurative paintings. About ten percent of her paintings are commissioned works. The remaining pieces are inspired by the couple’s travels around the United States.
Steve’s works are primarily oil paintings in an impressionist style, but he also experiments with acrylics, watercolor, airbrush, and assemblage work with found objects. “I paint primarily on canvas but work on many other surfaces as well, including Plexiglas, metals, wood, and paper.” Similarly, about ten percent of his work is commissioned with the remainder inspired by travel.
Steve’s and Vivian’s work has been featured in exhibitions at galleries in almost every major city from coast-to-coast over a 20 year period. This includes New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Memphis, Santa Fe, San Francisco, San Antonio, Houston, and Portland, among others.
“Nationally, we sell a lot of art through interior designers, architectural firms, and art brokers. Locally, we now sell our artwork primarily from our home/studio by appointment or through The Gallery at EM in downtown Conway.” Their work is also featured in Little Rock at The Showroom Gallery and in Hot Springs at Justus Fine Art Gallery.
“Currently, we are traveling about 100,000 miles per year creating artwork across the United States. We post many of our adventures on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and blogs. Many of the paintings created on these travels sell directly from social media posts. Our upcoming show at the Richard Stravitz Gallery in Virginia Beach will be entitled The Million Mile Show, reflecting on 20 years of traveling and creating artwork,” they share.
When asked for their sources of inspiration, Vivian and Steve say, “Our only true source of inspiration is travel - exploring God’s creations! It doesn’t matter where we go; we are always able to find something that is truly awe-inspiring. We are often asked if our love of the outdoors drives us to capture its beauty on canvas or whether it is the love of painting that pushes us to explore nature. For both of us it is a never-ending cycle. The more beauty we see, the more we want to paint it, and painting nature makes you want to travel more.” They often plan their next trip on the trek home from their current one. “It is impossible to name all of the artists that inspire us but safe to say that it is the individual working artists across the United States that we meet in our travels.”
Today, Steve’s and Vivian’s work can be found in the private collections of corporations, colleges, universities, famous athletes, entertainment celebrities, and political figures. “But we are most grateful to the countless private collectors who have filled their homes with our artwork over the past 20 years. In return, we have donated artwork to numerous charitable causes for their fundraising efforts,” says Steve.
While Vivian and Steve often paint together, as they share studio space in their home and in their mobile art studio, they are often inspired to work at different times of day or in different spaces. “Many of our gallery shows have been billed as husband and wife artists. We usually include a few paintings in these shows inspired by the same subject matter but interpreted differently.” For example, Vivian might paint a subject in an abstracted manner, while Steve paints the same subject in a realistic fashion. “These paintings are typically some of the most discussed works at the show,” they say.
“Over the years we have done many fun projects in which we work together on the same paintings. Typically, these are for charitable events or commissioned by interior designers. We rarely talk about what we are going to do but begin painting and intuitively build on each other’s brushstrokes.” This is a nice analogy for their relationship, which is has also grown naturally in time with their art.
When asked what contributes to the longevity of their relationship, they say without hesitation, “Mutual respect and admiration! We are each other’s biggest fans. We are blessed to have similar interests in travel, art, music, dining, entertainment, and adventure. We are both also very passionate about giving back to our community. We keep each other laughing constantly, which is important when you are together almost 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. We often drive eight to ten hours at a time between shows, talking nonstop. Over a 20 year period, we have solved most of the world’s problems.” Undoubtedly, they will continue to do so over many more miles.