While growing up on his parents’ dairy farm in rural Hamilton, young Stephen Altena dreamed of Pretty Things. The Victorian farmhouse of his childhood, with its pressed tin ceilings, patterned wallpapers and china cabinet brimming with ornamental 'fancies', informed his youthful aesthetic. His appreciation for patterns, motifs, and botanicals come together in his creation of works of beauty and moments of visual pleasure.
The imbued life of these objects and decorative flourishes instilled in Altena an appreciation for the language of ornament and the emotional balm of the arts which now extends a bridge into his past with its moments of beauty and simple pleasures. Whether through luscious oil paints or dreamlike multi layered screen prints, Altena evokes a world of delight, an appreciation of pattern and decoration and the fragile and wistful reverie of a queer childhood spent dreaming of pretty things.
Stephen Altena is a graduate of the Independent Study Program at Dundas Valley School of Art and is co-founder of Hundred Dollar Gallery/The Hamilton Art Gallery with Andrew McPhail. Altena is also a founding member of the Hamilton artist-run collective, The Assembly Gallery. He lives and works in Hamilton, ON.