Visually impaired St. Augustine artist opens exhibit at Villa Zorayda

Steve Anderson is unique among artists: he’s visually impaired. He currently has less than 10 percent of his sight, and didn’t start painting until he had lost nearly 75 percent of his vision. 


“I was diagnosed with the genetic, degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa and glaucoma in late 2008.” Anderson says. “The prognosis was heartbreaking for me, knowing I was destined to a life in total darkness in the near future. I unfortunately allowed melancholy to take hold of me, but not for too long.” 

At the urging of his parents, Anderson started photographing St. Augustine. He wandered the streets, red-and-white cane in hand, and studiously focused on the architecture that defines the city. 

“I began to look at my original photographs in a new light and soon became determined to purposefully create a one-of-a-kind, unique style all my own, Anderson says. “I’ve achieved that with my very own blend of photo-realism infused with bright, vivid, saturated color in a modern, impressionist palette.” 

Anderson’s art helped alleviate the depression that had plagued him since his diagnosis. 

“During the creative process, my melancholy slipped away — my pity party ended — as I found new purpose, forged a strong will and developed a fortitude in the face of such a life-changing event.” 

Anderson will open an exhibit of his work during a reception from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Villa Zorayda Museum, 83 King St. The exhibit will be on display through Oct. 29. 

Museum owners, James Byles and Marcia Mussallem, say that Anderson’s work fits perfectly with the museum’s mission. 

“Steve Anderson’s exhibit, with his art pertaining to the Gilded Age structures in St. Augustine, fits nicely in the Villa Zorayda Museum,” Byles says. “Time and care are taken when placing the pieces in the museum to ensure that they enhance, not distract from, the visitors overall experience.” 

“His paintings almost look as though they are part of the museum’s collection when on display here and really give our museum visitors something truly special to enjoy,” says Mussallem. 

Anderson finds joy in his ability to translate his disability into something creative that can be shared with the world. 

“My story became not one about my blindness, but one about innovation and the creative spirit regardless of the odds,” he says. “It became a story of positive will, perseverance and fortitude. … I’m quite proud of my achievements in the art world. I’ve accomplished many goals that hundreds of artists in St. Augustine have yet to accomplish, and I made these achievements under the most unusual circumstances.” 

Even though his sight is in a state of constant decline, Anderson has no plans of giving up his artistic endeavors. 

“I’m still producing art as my sight continues to decline, even though I lose a little more vision each month,” he says. “I’ll keep painting until I can’t.” 

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