Intimacies: Recent Paintings is a solo exhibition of paintings and drawings by visiting artist Mike Richins. This body of work depicts the beauty found in daily and routine occurrences, and in the sensual and dynamic nature of a long-term relationship. At the heart of the exhibition is a series of images of the artist’s wife, Mandy, which are based on photographs and drawings spanning the past fifteen years of their relationship. As a meditation on marriage, the tone of the paintings ranges from serious to playful, spontaneous to sensual. Complexity, mystery and beauty are found in the investigation of that which is near and familiar.
Get to know Mike as he answers our exhibiting artist questionnaire below.
Please provide a brief biography.
I grew up in Worland, WY, and also lived in Utah and Kansas for periods of time, which were formative experiences. After high school, I enrolled in Colorado State University to study Biology/Pre-med. After taking a figure drawing class, I switched to studio art when I realized that is where I wanted to focus my attention. I earned a BFA in painting, printmaking and drawing. I’ve worked as an artist in Fort Collins since then, while being employed at CSU. I live with my wife, Mandy, and two daughters, Emerson and Vivian.
Can you explain your work in 200 words or less?
My current work focuses on images of my family. I use paint to create visual representations of my wife and two daughters, while allowing for an organic process where thought and memory inform and provide nuance to the work. I develop the paintings with the understanding that my relationship to them is different than what a viewer will experience, given my closeness to the subject matter. Nevertheless, I hope that the work conveys an intimacy that is felt by the audience. While working on learning photography, around 15 years ago, I had a gradual realization that family, as subject matter, was not only a rich area to focus my practice, but also something I needed to do. I gained inspiration from the work of photographers Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, Emmet Gowin and Sally Mann, and painters such as Paul Cézanne, Pierre Bonnard and Alberto Giacometti, all who created significant images of those close to them. My goal is to create paintings that explore the mystery and beauty of that which is near and familiar.
Name three artists who influence your work.
Edgar Degas, Alberto Giacometti, Sally Mann
When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
I don’t remember ever having such a realization. I was always drawing as a kid, and since then, art has always been a constant in my life. I credit my parents for encouraging my creativity and am grateful for their continuing support. My dad is an artist, and continues to be an enormous influence on me.
What is your favorite accomplishment of your career?
Passing my love of art on to my two daughters.
What other jobs have you had besides art?
I was a forklift operator for a time in college, I enjoyed unloading train cars filled with cedar lumber – the smell was incredible. Currently, I manage a team of people at Colorado State University who provide a highly regarded resource-sharing system to academic libraries around the world.
When you are not creating, what are you spending your time doing?
I enjoy reading, watching films, swimming, hiking, backpacking, traveling and spending time with my family.
Do you have a dream project? What would you create if money and space were guaranteed?
I love photography as well as painting. The traditional photographic darkroom is a magical place. It would be fantastic to purchase an 8 x 10” view camera and create a large series of platinum/palladium contact prints.
What is your favorite thing about the arts culture in Colorado?
How the natural beauty of the state informs the work and people involved in the arts here.
What is on your agenda for the coming year?
Looking for other exhibition opportunities, continuing my current series of works related to family and discovering new directions and possibilities.
Intimacies: Recent Paintings opens on Friday, August 10, 2018 in the south gallery. Join us for the opening reception August 10 from 6 – 9 PM and artist talk September 6 at 6 PM. Both events are free and open to the public.