photo: Patricia Katchur ©2012 used with permission.

My work is very driven by internal narrative, I always seem to have some story roaming the halls of my mind and these stories materialize in my paintings and sculpture. I am also visually obsessive. This can be a problem at times on the other hand it brings certain thematic strength to my work  as recurring characters and places become the actors and stages of my personal mythos. Friends describe me as brilliant and deeply flawed and as much as I’d prefer that sentence ended at brilliant I’m happy to own it. I try to make the most of my many character defects. Not that I’d want to but you can’t really separate the work from the person. This is maybe why my work tends to be dark and humorous, like a demented children’s story.

I am an obsessive autodidact. Technically I’m mostly self taught, I use a modified Flemish technique in my paintings, first underpainting to develop value then adding color and spectral light effects with glazing and scumbling. Though I use other mediums I am most comfortable working in oil and almost all my paintings are in this medium. In my sculpture I tend to be much more experimental and I’ll use just about any material I can get my hands on. I do a lot of work in cardboard, I frame my paintings in hand made cardboard frames and I’ve been celebrated as one of the leading cardboard artists in the world. I use recycled materials in all my work. The birch plywood I paint on comes from a local cabinet makers dumpster. My oil paints are recovered by a friend who works at hazardous waste. My sculptures use cardboard pulled from the recycle bins. I wish I could claim this was born out of some ethic or desire to save the world but really it was born out of poverty and desperation. I had to make art and I had to have something to make it out of. I started making cardboard sculptures because I had no money and now ironically I make money building cardboard sculptures.

My belief is that if you want your community to support you you need to support your community. For this reason I have tried to be a leader initiating many community and collaborative projects over the years. In the early 1990’s I co-founded the All Souls Procession with fellow artist Susan Kay Johnson. This Dios Del Las Muertos parade through downtown Tucson has grown over the years from a handful of crazy artists to over thirty-five thousand participants in 2012. It is one of the largest non-mechanized, non-commercial parades in the United States. In my current capacity I am heading up the months long free community workshops that lead up to the procession. For three years I organized GLOW! A night time illuminated art event in Oracle Arizona which had hundreds of artists and performers and drew a crowd of 5000 over the course of the two days it ran.  There are many examples of my work within the community besides these two. My main motivation is that I want to share my love of creativity and self expression with everyone. I want to ignite a fire in people who may have never experienced the power and joy of making something and to help and encourage those who have.

In 2007 I was laid off from A job as an I.T. director. The mom and pop business I originally had been hired onto was bought out and gutted by a major corporation. Though I continued to work for the corporate office I despised that life. I was deeply unsatisfied with life, unhappy and in poor health.  Art was the one thing I was good at and the only thing I was passionate about. I had even tried to leave it behind and found I couldn’t. I decided to recommit to being an artist. This meant not only was I going to make great art but I was also going to learn the business of being an artist. I’d document my work, have a real portfolio, build a website, print business cards, schmooze, develop patronage  and get shows. Easier said then done, but I am in a better position than I was five years ago. In five more I hope to be in an even better place. Though I struggle financially and with the business side of this life I manage a meager living. The money I made as an I.T. Director laid a foundation that has allowed me to make this leap but I will never go back. I have a certainty and satisfaction that I have have never before experienced, I can honestly say, I am an artist.

Popular Projects

18 foot tall cardboard head and winner of Cartasia 2012 in Lucca Italy.

Southern Arizona’s Annual Illuminated art extravaganza.

The Lantern Project
Beautiful cardboard lanterns that seemd to take over my life but the results were worth it.

A monumental cardboard and resin sculpture

The Time Machine
A collaborative project involving seven artists in four different cities coming together on the Playa to make art.

Story Time

Perhaps it was my close personal relationship with industrial solvents but I never grokked that those tales of adventure, the ones the other boys were telling girls at the party, were enormous lies. I thought they really had fought polar bears in the arctic. So I set off to cultivate an adventure resume, something that would surely win the hearts of and panties off of every girl I met. All these years later, looking more like a crazy quilt of scar tissue than a man I’m starting to get a sneaking suspicion that maybe that wasn’t such a great plan. I’m not nearly as foolhardy as once upon a time. I settled down a lot after I met my wife. She may be human equivalent of lithium.

I’ve lead an interesting if not terribly sensible life. One might say I wandered right off the path less traveled and into the bush. In those years I’ve collected a number of tales. My poor wife just rolls her eyes and sighs softly when I segue into one of my ripping yarns. Even the dogs leave the room when I’m on a roll.

Tales of Woe Podcast

Click here to listen to my Tales of Woe Podcast

Stories need to be told. I love to hear a good story but you’d better be quick because faster than you can say, a long time ago there was…
I’ll be bending your ear. Occasionally I add a new Tale of Woe, little stories from my life. They are all entirely true except for the embellishments, fabrications and outright lies.

A Brief Bio

Did you know?

• Makes really good pies with amazing crusts.
• Has three siblings.
• Born across street from a wrecking ball factory.
• Made his first lithograph when he was three.
• Lives with two Xoloitzcuintle.
• Is fond of caudiciforms.
• Raises chickens.
• Has no enthusiasm for the yam.
• Worked as a bee keeper.
• Has webbed toes
• Builds his own kayaks
• Once dumpster dived a motor cycle

I was born in the mid-sixties in Beloit Wisconsin where I lived for a whopping three days. My parents were graduate students studying art history and geology. From the get go I was immersed in a world of art and science. I believe that this has left a rather indelible finger-print on the person I am today.

My whole life I’ve gravitated towards art and it is the medium through which I filter my experience. I found school horribly boring and wasn’t a particularly good student. In high school I spent most of my time either listening to punk rock or lost among the stacks of the University of Arizona’s libraries.

I spent my early twenties in a manic haze traveling the world. Spending two years in Europe and North Africa. I lived in Fez, Morocco for six months. I often found my way to Bristol England where I had friends and could always pick up some work. In 1987 I returned to the States and Tucson, my home town. I would work for six months at some menial job then spend the next six months traveling in Mexico and occasionally Central America. Mexico holds a special place in my heart and it’s culture has deeply influenced me and my art.

In 1993 I met my wife and settled down in Tucson.

I did not go to university, though I often snuck into lectures most of my education has been because I am an obsessive autodidact. I’ve had a number of jobs and careers over the course of my life spending from 1997 to 2007 working as the I.T. Director for a medical supply company. The company sold to the plastic surgery market. I know more about liposuction than I care to admit. When I left I decided it was time that I became serious about being an artist.

Through all of this the common thread of my life has been art. It’s why I get up in the morning.

Artists Statement

I am loath to write an artists statement. I’m not the kind of artist who carefully plans and executes paintings and sculpture. I work better and produce better work spontaneously. I am not a lazy artist nor do I have time for those who are, I put endless hours into my work both trying to improve technically and produce work which is compelling.

Art is visceral, a concept grabs you or it doesn’t. There are a few things I want you to know and I’ll spare you the rest.

Almost every thing I use comes out of dumpsters. The surfaces I paint on, much of the paper in the wire sculpture, even the oil paints! You may wish for its hasty return to the dumpster after perusing the offerings.
However, if you have the discerning taste, moral caliber, towering intellect, good looks and mountains of cash that it takes to truly enjoy my work, I want you to know that this garbage is affordable and odor free.

I like those dirty things that lounge about the periphery of our minds. Mystic carrots, axe wielding bunnies, kittens performing pre-internet searches, it’s all just a bit twisted. I had a lot of fun doing it. Doing something because it’s joyous and wonderful and playful seems like a great reason to me. I hope that some of that joy rubs off on you and leaves an indelible stain on your brain.

Mykl At Glow 2010

photo: Jeff Smith © 2010 used with permission

Love and Kisses

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