Building a Legacy
By Ana Lete
If you’ve visited CACi Wood-Fired Sicilian Grill in Eagle lately, you’ve probably noticed the colorful mural on the back wall. The mural is the collaborative work of local Eagle artist Steve Humke, and Meridian artist Joyce Green.
Although he now calls Eagle home, Humke grew up in Iowa on a family farm. “I learned a lot from my dad, mom and siblings as we all worked the farm together. We had to create and build nearly everything that we needed, and I especially liked the construction projects,” said Humke. But he had artistic tendencies even from early childhood. His mom was also artistic.
While studying at Iowa State University, Humke realized his architecture major wasn’t the best fit, so he switched to Art and Design. Just as he graduated with a BS from Iowa State, Humke was drafted into the US Army during the Vietnam War era. “I was assigned to the Old Guard in Fort Myer, VA,” Humke explained. “While serving with that ceremonial unit in Arlington National Cemetery, I performed Military Honors at up to 20 funerals a day – It was a deeply moving responsibility.”
After serving, and hoping for better career opportunities, Humke came out to California with an Army buddy and soon had to find a job. “With my artwork portfolio under my arm, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I applied for a temporary scale model building job. Somehow, having never professionally built models before, I got hired.” I ended up on a major project building a scale model for the future TransAmerica Pyramid building, which to this day is a distinctive part of the San Francisco skyline.
Eventually, Humke was building scale models at a shop in Orange County, CA, for major home-building industry companies. “Normally, projects came to us where we produced visual aids from previously designed plans,” Humke explained. In contrast, half way through his career, Humke joined Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) where he became a Dimensional Designer and used model building as a tool in the design process.
While at WDI, Humke completed several major multi-year projects as a Production Designer, taking the designs to the field and directing artistic construction on site. Some of his favorite projects were Animal Kingdom in Florida, Tokyo Disney Seas in Japan, and Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii.
While many artists prefer to create their art alone, Humke said he has enjoyed working with others at all stages in his career – whether on a team or in a training role. “Working with and mentoring other artists and watching them grow and succeed was absolutely wonderful,” Humke explained.
Humke still frequently chooses to work with others. “When I took on the CACi project, I knew it would be better working with another artist. Creating a team seems to bring better results, with strengths and weaknesses complimenting each other,” Humke said. His partner on the 7 by 16 foot CACi mural, watercolorist Joyce Green, worked alongside him to add important portrait-like details which made the eleven characters in the mural more appealing. “Joyce added expressions with her paint brush quickly and naturally, while I easily developed the large areas with my airbrush. Our work complimented each other.
Retired since 2013, Humke has continued to do art and design projects. While some are commissioned, he readily lends his artistic abilities to various church and community functions. “I take volunteer work just as seriously as paid projects,” he said.
From sketches, to paintings, to models, and even theme-park attractions, Humke has decades of projects in his portfolio. But even after all these years, Humke’s passion for art remains strong. “For me”, said Humke, “there’s always an excitement working on a new project. It’s fun!”