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Michael Brundidge: Inside the Artist’s Studio

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Some People Call Me the Space Cowboy

By Derrick White

“You are free to do what you want! So go out and get it,” exclaims local artist Michael Brundidge. Michael is a cheerful, energetic, friendly, and laid back personality you are more than likely to encounter during your next visit to True Vine Brewing Company, where he works. His artwork may also be seen there, perhaps being displayed in a one-night, pop-up art exhibition or permanently installed in spots around the brewery. Michael’s art is primarily collages. This is something I personally value because about half of my own artwork is in the medium of collage and I appreciate it when I see it and when I see it done well.

The word collage comes from a French word meaning “to glue” and it is a prevalent and accessible visual art technique, where the composition is created from grouping different colors, forms, and images and creating a new, and sometimes very different, whole. Collages may include drawings and sketches, magazine and newspaper clippings, ribbon, paint, handmade papers, text lettering or phrases, photographs, prints, and other found objects selected and attached to paper, canvas, wood panels, or other supports. The ancestry of the process of collage dates back hundreds of years. 

Brundidge explains, “My main focus in style lately is mixed media collage artwork. Outer space has been the most prevalent theme and inspiration in my current series “Space Is The Place.” I like to mingle Pop Art, Surrealism, and a splash of Neo-Dadaism (an absurdist combination of daily life and art using playfulness, iconoclasm, and appropriation).” He goes on to add, “I use plywood as my canvases (or supports) and acrylic paint for the backgrounds. I love how the acrylic soaks into the plywood. I think the textures really visually pop creating a combination matte and glossy finish to my backgrounds. I use clippings and cutouts of various images found in old magazines from the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s. I really enjoy the textures and color palettes used in those decades. I juxtapose images of people, places, and things I find interesting onto my painted backgrounds. I like to call it manual Photoshop. The images most often reoccurring throughout my pieces are large ominous hands, planets, women, and astronauts.” After Michael creates his collages he then finishes them by creating a custom frame for each individual piece using weathered or repurposed wood, which adds to the charm and content of the work.

Other than elementary school art classes, Michael Brundidge does not have any formal training in visual art. He is a self-taught artist, sometimes referred to as an outsider or folk artist for the unique qualities of style and practice. When making art to make art, there is no critique deadline and no teacher to please. This is one of the open-ended concepts I love about creating art: the fact you can just decide to do it. If you feel inspired to start making, sharing, and selling art, you can put a sign in your yard today and become just as much of an artist as anyone else. No degree or certification, training, or experience required. This does not mean you will automatically have any success, be any good, or make anything interesting, but you might. You get to express yourself and your unique human experience to the rest of us however you feel compelled to do so. This concept applies to everyone, of any age, of any skill set, and by any means. You cannot do this with most other occupations. You cannot decide to randomly put a sign in your yard and start practicing dentistry, for example. Or as Michael Brundidge puts it, “You are free to do what you want! So go out and get it.”

What inspired Michael down the path of pursuing art was, as he states, “Honestly, it was loneliness and alienation. I know it sounds dismal and depressing but I was truly hard-pressed to do something. I did not feel as though I had much of an identity. Making art brought back vitality, confidence, and purpose in my life.” Adding, “It has developed my trait of persistence. Art has given me the will to continue on despite ridicule, hang-ups, and depravity.” What Michael finds frustrating about being an artist is, in his words, “Exclusivity and competition. I disagree and do not participate in any art based competitions. Art is extremely subjective. Critics and the upper crust held in high regard can make or break an artist. Anyone can make art. I dare and laud them to do so. I truly believe art is a party and everyone is invited.  Make art to make art. Elitism is too common in the art world. The idea that money talks and has unquestionable influence in the art world is a fallacy. Every artist matters and all content must be considered.” So everyone could, and I believe should make art. The process is emotionally healing and therapeutic. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in playing the game of the big money buying and selling art world, which is an economy just like every other commodity-driven economy in the world. Make art by you for you, and let the rest fall where it may whether you are a joker, a lover, or a sinner.

Speaking of jokers, Michael finds inspiration in the works of artist Ray Johnson, who was primarily a collage and correspondence artist. He was described as New York’s most famous unknown artist. Michael exclaims, “He was relentless and continuously persistent in his artwork. He was a recluse staying vigilant and persistent in his process. His media ebbed and flowed at his inclination. Johnson was a prankster in expectation. His content was his own and he did not sway his ideology and process. He even determined and called the shots when it came time for him to leave this world.” On January 13, 1995, Ray Johnson dove off a bridge and then backstroked out to sea in an apparent suicide or perhaps final performance art piece. Strange aspects of Johnson’s death involved the number 13 (date; his age, 67 (6+7=13); his motel room number 247 (2+4+7=13) … and the number of letters in “Me Space Cowboy”). Learn more about Johnson in the documentary film “How to Draw a Bunny.” Learn more about Brundidge by going to True Vine and having a beer.

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Art

Enter the “Every Body Counts” Art Contest

stretford tyler tx

Bored? How about creating some art and entering the 2020 Art Contest “Every Body Counts,” sponsored by the Tyler Public Library.

The due date for all entries are now due to the Library by April 1st. Mailed entries can be sent to 201 S. College St., Downtown Tyler, TX 75702. Digital entries may be emailed to ataylor@tylertexas.com.

More info can be found at tylerlibrary.com. The library will be closed until April 1st.

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Art

Call for Artists for the Gallery Main Street Spring Exhibit

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The Details: “Open Theme Exhibit” | Submit by March 29 | Opening on April 11 | Ending on June 1

Artists are invited to submit their work for the jurying phase of Gallery Main Street’s spring fine art exhibit.

The deadline for entry is Sunday, March 29th at 12 midnight.

Artists interested in participating should visit DowntownTylerArts.com, where they can find all the information needed, as well as links to the entry service site. The entry process is digital and allows artists to submit up to three pieces, with an entry fee of $20.

The spring exhibit is an open theme to go along with our new open style gallery! This will be the first juried exhibit in the new gallery space inside the Plaza Tower.

Gallery Plaza features a rotating exhibit of original local art. There are two juried exhibits, which means pieces are submitted for review by a jury panel of professional artists. Top-scoring pieces are selected for the exhibit, and the piece with the highest score receives a Best in Show award.

The space provides the artwork to be visible beyond the hours of the Main Street office and by patrons visiting the new first floor retail bays. The Gallery is a valued centerpiece to the beautifully furnished atrium that serves as an inviting gathering spot.

The spring exhibit will host a Reception on April 11th free and open to the public. The exhibit will run through June 1.

Gallery Main Street is a project of the City of Tyler Main Street Department in cooperation with the volunteers of the Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition. Information on Gallery Main Street hours and rules for entering the exhibit jury process can be found at DowntownTylerArts.com or by calling (903)593-6905.

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Ray Sikes: Inside the Artist’s Studio

stretford tyler tx

The Dreamcatcher

By Derrick White

“My experience with art started with Ms. Bobbin. I lived in a small, poor mining town. The school did not have an art program, but in the fifth grade, a roving art teacher was employed to conduct an art class for one hour a week for each grade. I remember being quite excited by this experience. We did soap carvings from large bars of soap. I carved a rabbit. It was great,” remembers local artist Ray Sikes. 

While attending college, Ray Sikes became interested in theatre and scene design. At community college, Sikes took art classes because the teacher was a famous native artist. He later transferred to a university and continued to major in theatre. Afterward, Ray enrolled at Baylor University for a Master’s degree in Theatre in Scene and Lighting Design. After graduating from Baylor, Sikes started teaching set design and lighting at a community college in St. Louis, then moved to Washington D.C. and worked as an assistant to a noted sculptor. Afterward, he ended up in West Virginia where he became Managing Director for an art complex, but resigned and moved to Tyler so he and his wife, Linda, could care for her aging mother.

Ray recalls, “In Tyler, I played golf almost every day for two years. I became very bored. I told Linda I wanted to start taking some art classes. I had always wanted to just draw and paint full time, though I had been painting and drawing some during all my teaching years. I signed up for a life drawing class at the University of Texas at Tyler. Then I took a sculpture class. Karen Powell, the department chair at the time, told me if I were going to keep taking classes I should just earn a degree in painting. I told her I already had two degrees why would I need another, but she convinced me. Since I already had a Bachelors’ degree, it only took me about two years to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and drawing.”

During the time Ray was taking classes at UT Tyler, he was asked to start working for the department. Ray was the gallery director for the university’s Meadows Gallery. The Meadows Gallery is located within the R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center on the campus of The University of Texas at Tyler and features rotating exhibitions throughout the year. The exhibition schedule includes nationally known guest artists, the Annual International Exhibition, faculty curated shows, Master of Fine Arts degree thesis exhibitions, and an annual student juried exhibition. The Annual International Exhibition is juried by an invited guest artist, historian or critic. The current 35th Annual International Exhibition is on view through March 6th, and was juried by independent curator Leslie Moody Castro. The Meadows Gallery will feature Jessica Sanders’ M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition March 16th-20th with a reception on March 17th. Nora Schreiber’s MFA Thesis Exhibition in the Meadows Gallery will run March 30th-April 3rd with a reception on March 31st.

“After my first few painting and drawing classes at UT Tyler, I realized I wanted to explore my native heritage through art. This started me on a research exploration about native aboriginals. This research led me to see most native arts had a spiritual/social conscience content. It just was not art for art’s sake; it had a societal purpose. I ask myself how this could be portrayed through my art. I came to use native forms like shields, deer skins, beads, and feathers. Plus, after visiting the Denver Art Museum and seeing original ledger paintings, I realized that the native style of painting was very flat and did not follow the western strictures of perspective. I have tried to paint in this way; although, there are times when I forget and revert to the Western canon. It is hard to forget how one was trained.”

“One of my first shields was made from rose bush stalks tied with leather and stretched over with tanned deerskin. I painted the pictures on the shield with red clay from my yard. I then realized I did not want to take the time to find and process natural dyes, so now I paint with acrylic paint on tanned leather. I tried oil paint first, but it tends to bleed into the leather surrounding the object leaving an oil stain.”

“I think calmness is a gift from my art. When I am in my studio and working on some piece, I am in the ‘flow’ much of the time. There was one noted artist who said, ‘When I go into my studio all my friends are there in my mind, then after a while, it is just me, then I leave and my work of making an art piece begins.’ I start to work on a certain piece and when I look up four hours have passed on the clock and I am calm.”

“Waiting so long to do what I really wanted to do – just paint! I think this happened because I listened to a very significant person in my life long ago that pushed their agenda on me and I believed them. I learned much later one needs to ‘follow your bliss’ and to hell with what other people say about what you want to do.” 

“The first one is Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a 19th-century post-impressionism painter, who recorded many details of the late-19th-century bohemian lifestyle in Paris. Lautrec mastered many visual art forms: printmaking, drawing, painting, caricaturist, and illustrator. Because of his title and disability, he was accepted into many levels of society, but he chose mostly to paint from the lower classes. He especially liked the people of dance halls and brothels. I find his work honest and clearly stated.”

“Fritz Scholder is a native 20th-century artist, who mostly paints natives. His ‘most influential works were post-modern insensibility and somewhat pop art in execution as he sought to deconstruct the mythos of the American native.’ Fritz was a Luiseno native, part of the California Mission culture. I like his work because it pushes the edge of work by natives about natives. Since a lot of my work is about natives on this continent, he gives me inspiration and insight into what I think about what I want to paint.”

 

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