Steve Cluck: Louis and Cluck, art and disk jockeying (with a lowercase d and j)
Walking into the swanky Cosmo’s Cafe bar, there was no awkward approach with me wondering, Is this the right person? Nope. No guessing is necessary when meeting the multi-talented Steve Cluck. I knew who he was with his back facing me. I approached the man wearing the fedora encompassed by a strip of orange fabric.
“Are you Steve?” (I asked, not to seem assuming). Of course it was him. And to my surprise, as he turned to face me, he also was wearing a fiery orange tie and matching daisy pinned to his suit jacket—an artist indeed.
Steve graduated from the University of Tulsa’s School of Art where he studied printmaking and painting. TU was also the foundation of his and Zuri Louis’ Tulsa themed merchandise brand, Louis and Cluck. Soon after graduation, Steve and Zuri (who was a graphic design graduate) were preparing to say goodbye to a friend moving to India. They searched Tulsa looking for fun “Tulsa” related souvenirs to send off with their departing school mate and were unable to find anything beyond tacky travel gas station t-shirts. Seizing the opportunity to fulfill this much needed push for Tulsa pride through hip apparel by combining their skills of screen-printing and graphic design, Steve and Zuri became Louis and Cluck.
“The very first shirt was “I ♥ Tulsa” and my partner Zuri Lewis had ” I’m down with T-town” as the second. It is our one two punch. We will soon see a re-imagination of the I’m down with T-town shirt. We are always moving forward with the visual, but we also want to stay consistant because people are growing up on it. I think about babies six years ago were wearing I ♥ Tulsa onesies.” Steve mentions the lasting effect of the t-shirts logos of Eskimo Joes, Hard Rock and CBGB shirts as classic examples of what he wants Louis and Cluck merchandise to embody. Steve is spot-on. The I ♥ Tulsa shirt is in the process of becoming the iconic shirt of Tulsa — Look out I ♥ NY!
Steve and Zuri do all of their own screen-printing- an aspect of Louis and Cluck worthy of respect. Giving up the artistic process of creating the t-shirts is something Steve Cluck is not willing to do. “I see this (Louis and Cluck) more of an art project and less of a commercial endeavor”, says Steve. The Louis and Cluck Tulsa apparel is representational of how Steve Cluck feels about our city. His goal is to simply celebrate Tulsa. The shirts and merchandise can be purchased at Ida Red on Brookside and on their website http://www.louiscluck.com/
(It was at this point during our interview when Steve’s impressionable attire compelled a blond haired lady in blue jeans to approach our table. She spoke grinning, “Pardon me for interrupting, but when I see a dude working his swagger I gotta comment on it. I’m liking it.” She may have refrained if she knew she was being recorded, but it seemed too perfect of an example on how the world needs artists. Mr. Cluck did what many artist hope to accomplish: he induced an emotional response from a stranger by merely getting dressed).
When not making cool Okie tees, Steve Cluck is busy painting canvases.
Steve has been painting for 13 years with his first show being the Mayfest Invitational. Although he does not rely on painting as his sole income, painting is equally a priority to his other ventures: “Painting is something I have to do. I am most comfortable in it; it is my natural element.”
Steve’s pop art is consistent — images of women with a focus on assets such as the lips/mouth and dramatic eyes. The works are a collaboration of fun, colorful and sexy. His applications are varied in texture and brushstroke, a natural evolution of most artists. You can see Steve Clucks paintings in the patio area of Cosmo’s Cafe in Brookside — conveniently next to Ida Red where you can purchase an I ♥ Tulsa tee. View here to see his paintings on Facebook.
As if making t-shirts and painting weren’t enough, Steve Cluck can also be found regularly at club Enso hosting dance parties: The Underground on Tuesdays, I Heart Thursdays and Purple Pop on Fridays. “I refuse to call myself a strait up D.J. I’m not doing the turntable tricks. I’m more like Don Cornelious from Soul Train. He would host Soul Train, throw the party and probably had a pretty good hand in choosing the songs, got his hand in the way it was decorated, the layout, promotion, the logos. I feel like I’m the host, the coordinator of the dance party, and I am playing the music. But, I am not playing the music like a capitol D. J. ” Music and dancing must be the special ingredient in Steve Clucks creative spirit. “I am like a human fraggle,” he stated—referring to the wild rocking muppets of Fraggle Rock in which any Generation Xer is well acquainted with.
When asked about Tulsa’s changing art community, Steve comments, “There has been so much growth in the last 5 years. We are really fortunate to have the Hardesty Arts Center being built— that building, we used to do the Momentum Tulsa show there. I have so many memories of the original massive warehouse, leaky roof and all the things that went horribly wrong with that stage. To see them renovating it and seeing it turn in into something for the art community, that’s gonna make us one of the top art communities within a several state area with the Living Arts, Hardesty Arts Center and TAC Gallery all in the same spot. It is humongous for our art community.”
Steve Cluck has Tulsa pulsing through his veins, bleeding through whichever creative form he so chooses, (including choice of apparel). You can currently see Mr. Cluck gracing the cover of Oklahoma Magazine for the 40 under 40 issue.
See more photos here