We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Newberry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, what’s the end goal, career-wise?
Making art is a special experience in the way it incorporates passion, thought, and sensory perception. When they come together in a painting the experience is amazing. Their dialog is a buzz of energy ricocheting at the furthest ends of our human attributes; from logic to pure gut feelings, to purely being in the moment when we are focused visually on some aspect of shadow. Those creative moments are ends in themselves. When the painting is done and works that is my end goal, and perhaps a starting place for the viewer, in the sense that they can visualize an end point. Hopefully using it to imagine their greatest dreams. To think about what the end of my career would be like feels unnatural to me. Though I can imagine solo shows at the Guggenheim or other major contemporary art museums. But what if the director is a jerk, or the patron cares more about status? Picasso opted out of going to his great Paris show, attending were the who’s who of the wealthy and famous. He went to a movie instead. [I recall reading that in The Making of Modernism.] Aristotle discusses Eudaemonia, the ideal happy flourishing state of being, it is not a frozen moment in time rather a process of living well. I have a few wonderful friends that love my art, and I love working everyday in my studio, and I love my work — that combination is where I hope to be at the end of my life. Anything extra is a bonus.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I create paintings and drawings out of a lot of simple elements of aspects of emotions, techniques, philosophy, and perception. When they are added up they result in an extraordinary benevolent view of humanity and its outlook. It is strange to feel proud about my artistic integrity, but I can’t conceive of painting as a service. Art feels like it demands one to be oneself 100%. Being a lone artist is a tough life, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It tests the limits of your confidence and talent. If you don’t have talent you are screwed, it is the talent that gives you respite in a long slog in the studio. When the magic clicks it is worth everything to get there. When it comes to making art it is very simple, I approach it like an ancient cave artist, or like a child, doing it out of love, passion, or by compulsion. And follow every lead it offers me. It seems the best practice for maintaining a fine art career is to keep the expenses down as humanly possible, be authentic at all times with everyone. A recent lesson I learned is when sharing an artwork on social media, is to take time, zen-out, and share thoughts about the emotion, technique, and philosophy behind the work. It seems to resonate very well with friends and collectors, resulting in several recent sales. I am a bit older now and so are many of my friends, it seems the most important thing is to find a purpose for continuing on. A key for me is the choice to evolve or die. Evolving is crazy complex and demanding, but if it is seen as natural to life, it opens wondrous pathways. And it takes the hesitation out of playing safe or trying to keep things as they are or were. It is the most freeing experience I know and my art is a reflection of that.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Go to Venice beach to people watch and for a long walk along the walkway and eat breakfast at Urth Caffe. A visit to the Sunday Main Street Farmers Market is an unexpected earthy wholesome place to go, I used to get flowers there when I had a studio close by. One of my all-time favorite dinner joints is El Chollo on Western Ave in the middle of L.A. It is sentimental to me, my dad proposed to my mom there, they were both students at USC, their seasonal green corn tamales are heaven. There are several great trails to hike around Malibu with great views of the ocean. San Onofre Beach several miles south of L.A. is a gorgeous area with miles and miles of natural classic California beaches. Though I grew up in Southern California, I discovered Idyllwild late, a mountain village above Palm Springs, an incredibly well-kept secret. A beautiful idyllic mountain town, 6,000 feet, dotted with cabins and mom and pop restaurants. And if you are up for a further drive is to go to Salton Sea, with its date groves, drive the Borrego Salton Seaway, and visit its prehistoric ancient oasis. And make it back to L.A. via the inland back roads of California, like visiting a Steinbeck novel.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow. That is a very long list starting with my grandmother, through teachers, friends, lovers, artists (alive and dead), students, collectors, and mentors. My colleague Robert Mechielsen at Studio RMA, is an architectural designer, he is the most passionate person I have ever met, and his art is imbued with emotional intelligence on an epic scale. Chan Luu, designer, is a friend and collector I mentored in fine art, extremely gracious, genuine, and successful in creativity and business. I learned from her not to be afraid of wealth, I had previously seen it as an artist’s enemy. A student I currently mentor is Susan Surber, and she never fails to bring her absolutely best game to every lesson. An odd connection for an artist, is that I am currently being mentored by PsyOp Specialist Boone Cutler. I am learning from him the crazy psychological pathways the mind takes, and how to use them as friends. I recently finished writing my first book, Evolution Through Art, publish date sometime in 2021, in it I discuss Vincent Van Gogh and Aristotle. I didn’t expect to spend as much time as I did on them, but in researching them their importance to art and to me became pronounced.