Mike's pictureMy name created with my own hand

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The pictures immediately below were done during the two years I attended Morton College in Cicero. I earned an Associate in Arts degree there in 1978.

Figure-Ground of Being (linoleum print, 1977)

Figure-Ground of Being thumbnailThis print was probably inspired by the original series first season opening for The Twilight Zone. The picture presents a symbol of the "IT" referred to in Alan Watts's books, the Cosmic Self playing hide and seek. The Light, background of being, defines all shadows.

Parable of the Sower (oil on canvas, 21"x21", 1/25/1978)

Parable of the Sower thumbnail

This painting began with a vivid dream about earth. I saw a soilscape from an underground perspective. I saw rich visual gnarly root systems, rocks and gravel, creeping things. It impressed me so much I wanted to paint it. The soilscape ended up in the picture as the cross section that appears along the bottom of the ribbon. I didn't do the dream justice, the picture took a new direction. The Parable of the Sower (sometimes called the Parable of the Soils) is a parable of Jesus found in Matthew 13:1–23, Mark 4:1–20, Luke 8:4–15 and the extra-canonical Gospel of Thomas. In addition to the symbols Jesus spoke of, I included the Holy Spirit as the flying dove and the ribbon as a symbol of time. Outside of time exists The Eternal, our origin and destination.

I sold this picture to my old friend Greg Miller's mother, Loretta Kalous, who paid $130 in 1978, if memory serves. This upset my dad who bought the picture back from her when he found out. It hung as a centerpiece in our Berwyn home for decades until, after Dad died, my mom moved into her series of assisted living facilities. She loved the painting and felt at home whenever she saw it hanging in her room. After Mom died I offered the painting to my younger brother Monte. He and his wife Trish had taken good care of Mom in her last years. I wanted them to keep the painting in the family. They shipped it to me with a note that said the picture was not acceptable, not their style. That hurt. I'm very happy to relate that my older brother Joe and his wife Arlene accepted the gift and it will remain in their family. I learned the news a day or so after August 18, 2023 while my wife Trish and I were at the pinnacle of the beautiful Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin. That healed.

Extraterrestrial (oil on canvasboard, 14"x18", 2/1/1978)

Extrterrestrial thumbnailIf memory serves, I painted this picture during a class taught by Professor Herbert Pannier at Morton College. I was invisioning a living extraterrestrial being made only of moving colorful light. As I worked on it Professor Pannier remarked, with delight in his voice, that I was "playing with light."

C'est La Vie (oil on canvas, 26"x34", 4/26/1978)

C'est La Vie thumbnailThis painting was inspired by the Emerson, Lake & Palmer song C'est La Vie. The title translates to "that's life" and I was thinking of it as a play on the Christian idea that the crucifixion of Jesus brings everlasting life. The stronger inspiration came from the tone of the song. Play it while looking at the picture and you may get the idea.

Mike and Trish with Sperm Whale (acrylic on canvas, 32"x24", 7/17/1978, retitled 2010)

Mike and Trish with Sperm Whale thumbnailI painted this picture during the summer after graduating from Morton College. I would begin to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago that fall. The picture has me represented by the miserable crouching figure who is touched by the Christ and can see his positive future.

Meditation (acrylic on canvas, 1978?, titled 2020)

Meditation thumbnail

This painting, one of my personal favorites, has disappeared. I learned to meditate from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's organization some time in the mid to late 1970's. Is the meditator troubled by the split skull? I believe this picture was painted during the summer of 1978 before I began my SAIC classes.

The pictures below represent my work before I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1981. I didn't paint a lot at the Art Institute after I began studying avante-garde film and video art.

Dimensions (oil on canvas, 1978?, titled 2020)

untitled thumbnailThis oil painting is in the collection of Charlene Ryan. It's hard to see, but there is a ribbon winding through the length of the dark hole in the upper left of the picture. This refers to my painting Parable of the Sower where the ribbon is the landscape that Christ walks through and the hole is the bright orb in the upper right of that picture.

Pain of Selfhood (oil on canvas, 1979?)

Pain of Selfhood thumbnail

This is the last "completed" painting I did at the Art Institute. Avante-garde film and video art crowded out my painting studies. The word "completed" is in quotes because I began working on it since the Art Institute but haven't gotten back to it for a while. The selfhood in the picture would logically only refer to me, as I am the only self I experience as a self. I suppose it might also refer to all selves and is a part of the nature of being but I can't verify that because I don't experience other selves as my own.

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