QVC fans have an icon living in the Santa Clarita valley.
Santa Clarita “Artist of Hope”, Steven Lavaggi, is a world-renowned artist with a message to share. A powerful, yet simple message that is, in a word: Hope. Although he has spent his life’s work sharing this message with all those around him, Steven feels that now, during these very tumultuous times, the message is even more important.
As an artist, I have met many creative people who have great energy and passion, but Steven Lavaggi stood out from the crowd for me. I recently sat down with Steven and his wife Audrey to discuss some of Steven’s recent projects and left with a much bigger message of hope rolling around in my head. His story is inspirational and more importantly, beneficial for so many people right now.
In 1986, Steven moved from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina to Los Angeles, California, and approximately a year later met his lovely wife Audrey. They have been married for over 21 years and have a beautiful and creative 15 year old daughter named Stephanie. Santa Clarita has been their home for eight years and they love the beautiful view from their home overlooking the foothills. He is happy in his life, but that wasn’t always the case.
Life as an artist is not always easy and Steven’s life was no exception. In fact, it was a very tough time in his life that set him on the path leading to where he is today. He had hit bottom in three of the hardest areas of life to bounce back from at the same time – a broken marriage, his 10 year old son was diagnosed with diabetes and he lost his graphic design business. He found himself sitting on the bedroom floor crying out to God, “Whatever you are doing, please do it quickly and as painlessly as possible.”
In the depths of his solitude and sadness, Steven had to learn to “turn the page.” He said, “I had to learn to “turn the page”, letting go of the life, people and things in my past in order to discover not only the fresh blank page before me, but even more importantly, the rest of the unwritten book of my life’s destiny yet to be written.”
This realization allowed him to let go of the life and people in his past in order for him to move forward, looking to the future. Steven suggests that sometimes hitting rock bottom is what it takes to change direction in life and that in the end, all things work for the greater good. When times were tough, he learned to pay attention to those closed doors even more because “…you never know what great thing is right around the corner.”
Steven’s original artistic medium of painting is where the Angel of Reconciliation was born. By sharing this painting with family, friends and other business associates around him, Steven discovered many other doors were beginning to open for him. When his auto mechanic insisted that Steven create a three-dimensional sculpture of the Angel of Reconciliation, it opened yet another door. This door pointed in a direction filled with hope and reassurance because, as Steven believes, the Angel of Reconciliation was guiding him.
Once the Angel of Reconciliation was transformed into the 20” high Angel sculpture, it took on a life of its own. Upon seeing the Angel for the first time, a member of the Parliament of South Africa invited Steven to go on a speaking tour with the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Another interesting page-turn came after Steven made a 10” version of the same Angel. A couple came to Steven’s home one afternoon to buy a painting and said they thought the 10” version of the Angel would be a great gift item on the “QVC home shopping network.” This opportunity eventually opened the doors to yet another path, with even greater impact on lives outside of Steven and Audrey’s sphere of influence.
After the events of 9/11, Steven had an epiphany to take the Angel of Reconciliation and inlay the American Flag within it. That is when the American Angel was born and became a lapel pin, which was proclaimed by the public as “the most appropriate expression for our nation in this hour.” Steven then traveled to ground zero where he gave these pins out to the firefighters and police officers, all of whom responded with a sense of renewed optimism.
Steven and Audrey’s Santa Clarita home has now become a gallery of hope. Each wall highlights Steven’s paintings and each painting has a story of its origination as well as a message to share. While each piece Steven creates shares the common thread of Hope as its message, some go even further.
One of my favorite pieces is Consolation. To me, this picture was instantly special to me because it features the Angel of Reconciliation with its wing wrapped around a woman who appears to be sobbing on her way up the rocky hill towards the light.
My initial feeling from the painting was just about spot on too.
Steven’s narration of the Consolation painting reads as follows: “In this painting we see a woman weeping, hanky in hand. The Angel of Reconciliation wraps one wing around her while pointing upward into the light beyond with the other wing as if to say, ‘no matter how difficult the past has been, or how painful this very moment may be, or even how rocky the climb ahead may become… You Will make it All the Way!’”
Steven has been known for his beautiful paintings, which share his vision of angels, lightness and hope for more than thirty years. He has designed a very successful jewelry line that has collectors from all over the world anticipating the next launch on the “QVC” show on April 29th 2009 at 11PM (PST).
Steven now has a great outlook on life and wants to share his message with all who will listen. He hopes that in creating these truly sincere expressions of hope and assurance in his paintings, jewelry and home décor, others will benefit from the message of hope.
He says, “We have no idea of how many days remain for each of us. I have determined to live in such a way that when I leave this world, it will in some way have been made better by my having been here.” Imagine what would happen if we ALL lived our lives that way