Obituary Published in The Courier-Journal, December 29, 2010
Written by Gabriel Wrye
IRWIN, STEPHEN LAWRENCE, born in Vine Grove, KY on September 19, 1959, he lived! Steve-ann, Rustee, Crustee, Craven Morehead, Gingerspice, Pom-Pom, Tanta, artist, raconteur, fabricator, impresario, cool hunter, shopkeeper, botanist, collector, reader, agitator, counselor, mentor, collaborator, brother, son, friend, lover, trouble maker and solver, icon, he was all verb, CREATIVITY, big mouth, bright eyes and rough hands that never stopped making.
Everything he did was art, from Sparks, the revolution that masqueraded as the best bar in town, he owned, to his career as an innovative photo-stylist and commercial designer and his selfless advocacy of the arts and social causes, to his actual art, a ground breaking body of work represented by galleries in New York City, New Orleans, London, Cologne and Louisville, widely collected both regionally and internationally, part of the permanent collection of the Speed Art Museum and 21C and exhibited around the world.
Stephen was an unparalleled Louisville artist who revealed invisible grace in the obscene and mundane, in his city, in his friends and in his world. He gave generously of his experience, time and love, inspiring, encouraging and enabling other artists and the creative life of Louisville. He lived wild, abundant, kinky and original as his fabulous mane of coiled red hair. He was hot and star-like, drawing in bunches of solar systems with his unique gravity; over bright and uncompromising, even burning, illuminating, he transformed any stone lucky enough to find his orbit into a celestial body.
On December 27th at the age of 51, he died. He is missed.
He is survived by a family of friends.
An informal gathering of friends will take place from 4-6 p.m. on January 1, 2011 at Zephyr Gallery, where he was a long time member and an exhibition of work is currently on display. A memorial service will be 4 p.m. at the Auditorium of the Speed Museum on Saturday, January 15, 2011.
Expressions of sympathy may be made in honor of Stephen Irwin to New Art Collectors of the Speed Art Museum, 2035 S 3rd Street, Louisville, KY 40208-1803.