Artist, Photographer, and Writer Ashley G Garner Gives Us a Closer Look at the Work and Life of Artist, Michael Alan.
It was one of the hottest days yet this summer and I was set to meet artist Michael Alan at East River State Park in Williamsburg for our interview. Secretly I was hoping that he would suggest we go to a coffee shop instead but of course I was not so lucky and Michael just chuckled at my suggestion and said we’ll find a tree with some shade. I was hardly amused but his overwhelmingly kind demeanor and artistic integrity made me forget how what little makeup I had on at that point was literally dripping down my face.
We did in fact find some shade and the breeze of the water made our afternoon talk one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in a long time. As we discussed everything from our hopes and dreams, lost loves, psychology and biology, hardships and great triumphs I watched Michael make a dozen fantastical drawings within minutes of each other. Being the daughter of a man who would spend years finishing one painting I’ve never seen an artist work so effortlessly, quickly and confidently.
As many artists I’m sure understand it is easy to second guess your ideas, your techniques, take a step back and want to change a little something here or there until it is “perfect” and only then will you put it out in the world. Michael does not do this. His studio is a collection of over 5,000 works and counting with more pieces being made every day. He has drawings, sculptures, videos, music, mixed media, and I’m sure there are things hidden in corners that can’t even be put into words. His life is a dedication to the constant evolution and dedication to art. Some people don’t know what that means, to be dedicated to art because what is art? No one knows but you know it when you see it. When you see Michael Alan and his work you know that this is someone who is on this earth as a vessel for creativity, freedom, playfulness, light hearted, fun and challenging evolution. His work asks questions and never really gives an answer but you walk away feeling like you understand life a little bit more.
At the opening last week of his first solo show at Tanja Grunert Gallery there was a selection of 50 drawings. Some just of lines, others with paint, colored pencils and paper collage all mixed in. As I walked around the room the idea of string theory kept popping up in my mind. How there is a methodical madness to Michaels’ work that gives off the impression that he has probably read lots of books on physics and relativity.
Everything is so thought out yet completely unplanned. Rarely did I ever see him pick up his pen at the park the few days before and looking at the work on display you got that sense of urgency but at the same time there didn’t seem to be time in his characters. They are beyond this earth yet humanistic. They are heavenly but not perfect. They are honest and real but magical and mythical. My favorite piece, JewelCase, took my breath away from across the room. From a distance it looked like a mermaid coming out of a genie’s bottle and for some reason or another it felt like me. His work does that, makes you see things and feel things about yourself that you didn’t know were there yet on that piece of 14×11” paper I saw myself and I was happy. Michael’s work has that ability; that no matter what you leave with a smile on your face.
Michael also does an incredible living drawing installation that is the in-real-life version of the colorful, contorted, mind blowing and thought provoking characters in his drawings. His next Living Drawing Installation will be on Saturday, August 8th at Tanja Grunert Gallery from 6pm – 1am. The Rise of Artistic Tradition will be on display until August 19th.