Michael Lebson is our seventh Featured Artist for our 1st Annual Juried Show: A New Look. His art is currently displayed in the Gallery along with 14 other regional artists, looking to win the opportunity to be featured in an upcoming Bethlehem House Gallery 2017 show, as well as prizes from Blick Art Supply.
Michael’s work explores themes such as universality, scale, repetition, time, as well as similarities and differences among common things. These themes are then applied in a more literal artistic sense, where composition, focal points, color, value, rhythm, spacing, abstraction, reality, detail, boldness, elegance, presence, and other factors materialize into art.
Get to know Michael:
Mikey, Mook, Mike Deez (Diesel), Donald Duck (my middle name is Donald).
Where did you grow up?
Who was your biggest influence for your art growing up?
It’s a 7 way tie between my grandmother, mother, father, my three brothers, and my best friend since childhood, Jared. All have a large place in my creative outlook, in various ways. The first three because they always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do, and still do, but all made art in various points of their life as well. My brothers and best friend influenced me because we all had essentially the exact same interests, so looked at the same art and games all the time. Jared had very similar parental figures and brothers to mine, so pretty much everyone surrounding me during my life made me destined to be an independent artist.
Favorite artist and why?
Michelangelo for majesty, grandeur and perfection, David for structure and impact, Poussin for order and balance, Monet for consistent beauty, Van Gogh for energy and life. Hopper for atmosphere, Dali for pushing the limit, and Wayne Thiebaud for organization and texture. Honorable mentions include El Greco, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Klimt, Manet, Magritte and many others.
What color best describes you and why?
Probably Yellow, with a hint of orange. Bright and burns with intensity, but can easily be affected if poor color choices are mixed in.
How would you describe your fashion style?
Collarless Kindergarten size t-shirt wearer.
What was your first piece you created /sold?
The first framed work I’ve done is a moderately decent pastel still-life of a vase of flowers when I was 6 years old. No assistance and they wouldn’t have dared to ask. It still hangs in my parent’s house. My first painting I did in college was stolen, which I am proud of. As a freshman I took elective art courses. I made a still life of a cake with fancy icing on a table covered with felt, with gray cinderblocks as the background. I always miss that painting, but then again, it’s a nice claim to fame too.
What’s your favorite piece of art work?
I don’t know if I have a top singular painting. It’s not fun to count Michelangelo’s works, since sort of by default they are my favorite due to human achievement. This is also different than being my favorite painting, but the single piece that would affect my outlook on art the most if it was erased from existence would be Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth. That painting has instant nostalgia and wonder, but the personal nostalgia I experience thinking of that painting would be a profound thing to lose from my memory. In my elementary school art class in 1st grade, I remember vividly when we were shown a print of that painting, and hearing the story behind it. There’s such a sense of place, and a tension created by the sense of both serenity and doubt.
If music counts, then Depeche Mode’s four album stretch of Black Celebration, Music for the Masses, Violator, and Songs of Faith and Devotion. Music has a massive influence on my visual outlook, where spacing, time, rhythm, and movement often derive from my musical tastes. Other key choices would be the Beatles (everything, but Hard Day’s Night and the White Album are key), Bowie (up to 1980 but some sprinkled thereafter), and Eric Clapton, his solos in particular.
What’s your dream project?
World peace would be the ultimate goal.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Best piece of art advice I’ve ever been given was from Emily Duke, an artist and professor, at Syracuse University. It was more an overall lesson, and we learned many examples. Essentially, anyone has the right to apply any form of criticism they so choose towards art you create and analyze it through that lens. I am already an empathetic type of person, so this solidified some of my conceptual desires, and to be honest, this knowledge was ahead of it’s time.
For more information on the Juried Show and other competing artists, view our exhibit page.