If there is such a thing as an "urban Renaissance man," then local artist Steven "Sole Junkie" Cedre is probably the closest anyone can get. Most days, you'll find him in Urban Cyclery — his cycling shop downtown — working on various bicycles as customers and friends (the two are often interchangeable) filter in and out seeking parts, advice or just conversation.
But Cedre isn't content to simply operate a successful business. He's a husband and father, he teaches martial arts, he leads a weekly community bike ride, and he's in the process of launching his own cycle track racing team. And, somewhere amidst all those activities, he finds time to paint.
Describing his artistic style as "urban landscape with an emphasis on pop culture," Cedre works in oil and acrylic, capturing a unique view of the city.
"My imagery is basically comprised of graffiti and city landscapes," he says. "I try to hide messages in my paintings, so you may catch tiny images of cartoons, a pop culture reference or something related to a current event as a commentary on the days we live in. Those details act as a time capsule to mark our time here."
Sole has been into art since he was a kid, but he's been painting and drawing in earnest since 2000. Although he began as a self-taught artist, Sole has a formal art education, earning a bachelor of fine arts from California State University, Long Beach, with a specialization in drawing and painting.
Beyond smaller works on canvas, Sole has contributed a few large-scale murals to town, including a brightly colored, geometric rooster at the recently opened Rooster's House of Ramen and work in Superior Barber Shop near The Citadel mall.
He's also built a bit of a reputation as a popular sneaker artist, which he details in his book Sole Junkie: The Custom Kicks of Steven Cedre. It features images of his customized "kicks," sneakers painted for enthusiastic collectors and high-profile athletes in a variety of professional sports. Interspersed with the images in his book, he integrates intriguing details of his journey from a kid in the Bronx to the artist he is today. So add writing to his growing list of skills.
With so much going on, Cedre's calm and welcoming demeanor belies his busy schedule. But it's indicative of what seems to be his life's motto: "You only get one life. You've gotta live it to the fullest."
Catch his upcoming show, 21st Century Cave Man Paintings, at Art 111 in August; specific dates to be announced soon.