Versatile Marlene Steele

The tall, slim, friendly figure of Marlene VonHandorf Steele is often spotted at the Art Club checking out the exhibits, drawing at the Sketch Group or chatting with friends. Her official role this year is as vice-president and chairperson for Club exhibits such as the Signature and Associate Art Shows or the monthly Featured Artist solo exhibit in the Club foyer. A very versatile artist with a notable painterly style from landscape to courtroom.


She has been crayoning and drawing since she was a kid, studying painting for a while under Aileen McCarthy who was a student of Duveneck and famous in her own right. Later Marlene graduated from the Cincinnati Art Academy with a major in painting.

MSteele_Cleaning the Terminal Face

She creates portrait, figure and landscape works in her painterly style. Her art has won recognition in all media including oil, pastel, watercolor and charcoal. Since 2004, Marlene has also gained notoriety as a courtroom artist.

union terminal steeleThis past Spring, she was featured along with Club member Ray Hassard at the Richmond Art Museum where the gallery walls displayed her scenes of familiar Cincinnati scenes such as our Union Terminal, one of her favorite local architectures. She lives not far from there, in the West End near the OTR region, and often captures this area of town in her paintings.

Gallery view Concrete Dreams DF, steele

Exhibition at Richmond Art Museum

Her painting of the Union Terminal is surrounded with cranes and construction equipment during its recent renovation. Many of her architectural landscapes, however, are of unfamiliar buildings, garages or porches. The geometric shapes and light patterns that rise from the ground into buildings, or heaps of concrete in what once were buildings, challenge her mind for their potential in composition and color. It is how these shapes impact each other that appeal to her so she paints them without concern as to whether the finished painting will be purchased. It is more about the potential of what she sees.


Marlene goes to court a lot.

She does not confine herself to urban landscapes but is also an accomplished portrait and figurative artist. She is the Ohio Ambassador to the Portrait Society of America. She was a founder of the Greater Cincinnati Calligraphers’ Guild – picking up on her early career as a sign painter at H & S Pogue. For two years she served as Artist in Residence for the University Club of Cincinnati. Marlene teaches in the Art Academy’s Community Education program, and as an adjunct at the University of Cincinnati DAAP and Baker Hunt.

So, the next time you see this tall, slim figure walking about at the Club, take the time to have a chat with her. You will sense immediately her warmth and friendliness. And you will have a new friend on the Board.

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