WEBSTER–As they grew up, their father’s words stuck in the heads of twin sisters Betty and Barb Steeg:
“If you want something bad enough, you can make it,” Lloyd Steeg of Webster would say.
And if you made it to the Central Burnett County Fair art exhibit before the storms slammed in and unroofed the building, you saw what Dad meant.
Adorning a five-foot chunk of wall and several patches of table was the 39-year-old women’s artwork. You see, making the art is that they want badly enough.
And the subject they love badly enough to depict? Rock star David Bowie.
While his music is popular with mainstream America, his image is often chastised.
But it has intrigued the Steegs.
We never listened to rock music in our lives until two year ago,” Barb Steeg said.
It wasn’t Bowie who turned them on to rock, but Sting.
They hear a Sting song in the movie Leaving Las Vegas, and, after, bought all the Sting music they could get their hands on.
In the meantime, they watched the movie Labyrinth, which introduced them to Bowie for the first time.
“We just loved David!” Betty Steeg said.
Discovering Bowie opened an entirely new spectrum of art for the sisters, who have used art as expression for many years.
They both graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in the mid-‘80s with degrees in education and animal science. Now, they both work at Northern Manufacturing in Grantsburg, where they painted bears on the wall.
Latching onto Bowie means being able to drench themselves in studying a subject.
“He’s got two unique eyes,” Barb said.
For her, it has launched her work in portrait artistry.
From the start, the crevices and curves of Bowie’s face lured her hand, which held a pastel or piece of charcoal over thick paper.
“I really wanted to do faces, so I tried really hard,” she said.
Now Barb can draw Bowie from memory in a few minutes.
Betty draws complex spreads of Bowie, where he appears several times in a maze of abstract backgrounds. When talking of Bowie, Betty draws on his life.
Both the sisters have read Bowie biographies. As a young man he wanted only fame and compromised ethics to attain it.
“He was really wild,” Betty said
The Steegs entered more than 2D art in the fair.
In the recycled item category, they entered a Bowie doll they made out of Ken doll clothes and colored wire. They dyed a mini feather boa to wrap around his body.
Some people scoff at painted and scratched Bowie depictions the Steegs made on damaged wood strips. The pictures show the real Bowie–a man dressed in tight, bright-colored clothes, often with a cigarette in his hand.
The light-hearted Steegs don’t take the criticism personally. They make the pictures for fun.
It’s the same attitude they have about painting the new Grantsburg Chamber of Commerce float. It won second place recently at the Balsam Lake parade.
They did the float to help out their community. Grantsburg wanted something badly enough to call on someone who could make it.