USD Alum Installs Exhibit of Abstract Paintings in Campus Gallery

Photo of Steven Manolis One of J. Steven Manolis' red canvas paintings being installed in the John A. Day Gallery on the USD campus.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Installation is underway at the University of South Dakota for a showing of abstract paintings by J. Steven Manolis, a USD alumnus who specializes in large-scale, intensely-colored canvases.   

The exhibit will open to the public on Aug. 21 in the John A. Day Gallery and will run through Dakota Days, with an artist’s reception planned for Oct. 6. School classes will be invited to see the show and attend a critic’s round table during the last week of the exhibit.

“J. Steven Manolis is one of the foremost practitioners of abstract expressionism today,” said Elizabeth Sobieski, arts writer in New York and Los Angeles.

“Steven’s monochromatic color design and his large scale of artwork have rarely been created in the art world,” said Larry Schou, dean of the USD College of Fine Arts.

Born in Vermillion, Manolis earned a bachelor’s degree in business at USD in 1970 and an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1975. He later became the youngest general partner at Salomon Brothers in 1980 where he helped develop the multi-trillion-dollar residential and commercial mortgage securities department.

However, Manolis was always interested in art. He resigned from Salomon Brothers in 1991 to start his own company and to devote time to his paintings. Manolis now paints in Miami, and earlier this year had a solo exhibition at the Coral Springs Museum of Art in Florida. His paintings have sold to collectors around the world.

Manolis has donated seven paintings to USD, which are valued at $550,000, including one work made up of four canvases that reaches 7 feet high and 36 feet long. The paintings can be viewed in the Beacom School of Business, the Muenster University Center, and the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts.


USD's College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Michael Ewald
USD News