ON DISPLAY FROM AUGUST 9 - SEPTEMBER 11
By Michael Wilson
I recently returned from a trip to Europe where I visited friends and saw some more of the world. I took only a small bag filled mostly with art supplies and underwear with a plan to paint and see as much art and history as I could. I had the fortune of getting to do a two week artist residency at Salon Squared in Graz, Austria and made many new friends there thanks to friend and fellow artist Udo Wiedner.
This was my first residency and it was a wonderful experience. In addition to my own paintings I worked collaboratively with Udo and with Karen Koschell, the owner of Salon Squared. Having some space and time to experiment in an environment not only free of my usual baggage but also filled with new people and things to explore was amazing. It shifted my brain into an exciting gathering mode that was very empowering. I learned a lot working with Karin and Udo. New environments and new artists to exchange ideas with changes the context of work and forces (or enables) thinking about things in new ways. It is vitally important to be able to test out ideas in different settings, whether it be technical or conceptual. It helps to expand the relevancy of work beyond the inside of my head, beyond my local community, and provides energy and inspiration to bring back to share with my community.
Here in Norman I have been working on a series of portraits painted from life in oil using only red, white and blue. Included in the show are the last ones before I left on my trip to Europe and the ones I painted since I have been back. I enjoy the challenge of a limited palette, it is fun to play around with and see how many different looks I can get from only three colors. I have been using this color scheme on and off for years. The bicentennial made a big impression on me as a kid and I keep coming back to it as my understanding of what it means to be an American evolves.