Born in Detroit, Michigan, Smulka attended The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan with a full scholarship and studied under photo realist Chuck Close, among others. Smulka completed graduate school at The University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a MFA while producing minimalist, neo-abstract, expressionist painting and eventually moved back to New York where he had his first show at the Soho Center for the Arts in Manhattan in 1978. It wasn’t until a later trip to Italy with his wife Ginny that Smulka took in all the master works he had always wanted to see and realized he wanted to go back to realist painting.
Steve Smulka is a semi-photo-realist painter, interested mostly on the presence and effect of light, both compositionally and stylistically, among still-lifes of his collection of empty glass vessels and draped female nudes. Smulka in a way follows the traditional style of genre painting, striving for acute realism while finding satisfaction in superb draftsmanship and drawing.
Steve Smulka has exhibited in North and South America, Europe, and Japan, is a two time recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and has been collected by some of America’s largest corporations. He taught drawing and anatomy at The School of Visual Arts and currently lives and works in New Mexico.