A Short Bio
Michael Wilson - the B in MichaelBWilson is for my maternal grandfather, Bruce. I was born in Loveland, CO in 1955 and grew up in the nearby village of Berthoud, CO. In high school I studied for two years in the "Famous Illustrators Artists' Course by Mail." I spent the disco years as a hippie, painting and studying art at Humboldt State University in Northern California, spent a year on the island of Paros, Greece and graduated from the Boston Museum School in 1988, sharing first place in the prestigious 5th Year Traveling Fellowship.
I make art in an attempt to create order out of all of the beauty and chaos that’s happening to us all at once, giving form and visual poetry to the onslaught of visual stimuli amid conflicting emotions and absolute uncertainty.
The past five years, more or less, mark a return to my life as a surrealist painter. I paint images of contrasting elements: i.e. abstraction/realism, organic/geometric, dynamic/static, infinite/temporary, in order to get beyond the visual world and into the subconscious.
Much of realistic painting over the centuries has had the aim of capturing a moment in time, while most of what we see, and experience now seems to be the opposite. We’re constantly having our attention pulled one way then another, being interrupted by traffic, phones, people behaving unpredictably, Netflix, Amazon and constant advertising everywhere, all the time. And that's just normal life.
Then comes the unexpected and often inexplicable: light bends so we see a ship floating in air above the sea, historical landmarks burn to the ground in bright orange flame under deep blue skies, and the streets of our mightiest cities stand stark in their emptiness as our hospitals and cemeteries are overflowing.
2015: Don Quixote
I have always considered Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, Don Quixote, to be a great analogy for the principled and unrelenting life of an artist. He continues despite the odds, because it is the journey that gives his life purpose and it is his belief in the importance of his mission that sustains him. A dubiously admirable quality of Don Quixote is that delusional though he may be, and misinterpreting nearly everything he sees, he is never in doubt.
Since 2011 I have explored The Man of LaMancha as inspiration and subject, using Cubism for the method. In 2012 I launched a successful Kickstarter campaign: “Don Quixote: 91 Paintings In 91 Days”. The three-month time period was to force myself to finish work quickly and then move on. I wanted the idea to be paramount to the ability to execute it. The paintings and drawings are based on the Cubist principle of describing an object by seeing it from different angles as you move around it. First finding foms that describe the the object, then distorting and rearranging them to create movement and emotion. As a sort of abandoned language, Cubism offers a great deal of flexibility with color, shape, form, and space while maintaining fidelity to the book's fantastical nature and it's humanity.
What I learned working with a self-imposed deadline and quota is that you get good art from it, and there is a relatively high failure rate. With two days to finish a painting it is do or die; the piece works or it doesn’t but you go on to the next regardless. The works I did just to fulfill the quota, without my mind and heart into it, were not successful. But that’s no surprise and not necessarily failure; it’s part of the process. You show up and do the work even when you’re having a bad day, because some days do get better.
I am a big fan of history and fiction. History shows that no art occurs outside cultural and historical references, for either the artist or the audience. Fiction allows me to think of context as a choice, whether moving a subject to another era, repealing the laws of gravity, or combining styles and images.
I start my paintings with layers of thin acrylic paint, often but not always switching to oil paint (for the flexibility of drying times) to finish the painting. The tools I use illustrate the kind of contrast I seek to create in my paintings: Photoshop, digital cameras, multi-media projectors and the internet are as much a part of my materials as the centuries-old oil paints, paper, wood, canvas, wax, or pencil. The paintings are finished when the contrasts between imagination and skill, humor and drama, belief and skepticism are all in balance.
My paintings of the past ten years or so (2000-2010) have been dedications, of a sort, to the generations of family members that made up my childhood. We were close to my mom's family and as kids we spent a lot of happy times around old people and their old things, listening to their old stories. Paintings that began as my way of trying to touch and hold onto my childhood developed into depictions of icons of the twentieth century: trains, pin-up girls, fast and beautiful autos, influenced by the pop art that by then had permeated everything.
The motivation is still the joys and challenges of painting the things I want to paint, but I suppose the real subject that runs through my paintings is the temporal nature of our lives. Things age and change and the world and the universe go on, and the rest of us are left with memories and art.
1988 Fifth Year Program, School of the Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston
1987 Studio Program Diploma, SMFA, Bosotn
1978-1983 Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS
2012 Berkshire Taconic Artist Recourse Trust Foundation Grant
1995 Ucross Foundation, Claremont, WY
1994 McDowel Colony, Peterborough, NH
Blue Mountain Colony, Blue Mt. Lake, NY
1991 Yaddo Colony, Saratoga Springs, NY
1988 Clarissa Bartlett Travelling Scholarship, Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2014 Shaw’s Jewelry and Fine Art, Northeast Harbor, ME
2009 Wolfarth Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2008, ’07 Susan Maasch Gallery, Portland, ME
2007, '06, '05, '04, '03 OZ Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2006 Erlich Gallery, Marblehead, MA
2004, '03, '02, '01 Art 3, Manchester, NH
2004, '03 Sandy Carson Gallery, Denver, CO
1999, 1998 Deloney Newkirk Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS (since 2000)
2016 Hebrew Life Center Gallery, Boston, MA
2015 Newbury Court Gallery, Concord, NH
2013 Holtzwasser Gallery, New Art Center, Newton, MA
2012 Common Space Gallery, Waltham, MA
2009 Rule Corp. Gallery, Brighton, MA
2007, ‘06, '05, '04, '03 Oz Gallery, Provincetown, MA
2004, '02 Sandy Carson Gallery, Denver, CO
SELECTED CORPORATE COLLECTIONS
Magnolia Hotel Houston, Houston, TX Makati Quad, Makati City, Philipines
Federal Reserve Bank, Boston, MA Wellington Management Co, Boston, MA
Fidelity Investment Corp, Boston, MA Harvard Management Co Inc, Boston, MA
Charles Scwaab Corp. Ameristar Casino, St Charles, St. Louis, MO
Ssang Yong Corp, Seoul, South Korea Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University
Kea Lani Hotel, Maui, HA Hyatt Westlake in Thousand Oaks, CA
Fairmont New Orleans, LA Santa Clarita Hyatt, Valencia, CA
New York Hilton Hotel, NY, NY Highlands Inn, Park Hyatt Carmel, CA
Sheraton Boston, MA Hilton Torrey Pines, San Diego, CA
Sheraton Suites Cypress Creek, Ft. Lauderdale Denver Monaco Suites, Denver, CO
Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common, MA Omni CNN Center, Atlanta, GA
Ritz-Carlton, MonteLago, Las Vegas, NV Seiyo Ginza Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
Monarch Hotel, Washington, D.C. Doubletree Hotel, San Antonio, TX
SELECTED PRIVATE COLLECTIONS
Barbara Lee, Boston, MA
Wynn Newhouse, Boston, MA
Steven & Barbara Grossman, Boston, MA
2009 - present Instructor, Painting: New Art Center, Newton, MA
2007 - 2009 Instructor, Painting: SMFA, Boston, MA
2005 - 2018 Owner: OliverWorks Artists Services Co., Waltham, MA
2003 - 2007 Co-Owner/Director: OZ Gallery, Provincetown, MA