The Rapidian

ArtPrize 2013: Michael J Mayosky, the traveling muralist

Kansas City native says life (and art) is always an adventure.

During the couple of weeks ArtPrize takes place Michael J Mayosky calls the city of Grand Rapids home. He brings with him his studio and a desire to share with the city. The traveling muralist has numerous stories to tell of his “crazy adventures.”

Mayosky laughs and says “I’ve had a hell of a life so far, I can’t deny that.”

One of his most memorable adventures happened right here in Grand Rapids while Mayosky was living in a tent, at ArtPrize 2012. While in the process of taking down his mural, he fell from a ladder twenty feet high. Mayosky broke his arm from the fall, his painting arm. Not a great end to ArtPrize for this painter. However the local hospital covered his hospital bill. Mayosky's wisdom teeth were also removed by a local dentist for free while he was in Grand Rapids for ArtPrize 2012. “Grand Rapids has given a lot to me,” Mayosky comments. After being told by doctors that others who have fallen from such heights didn’t escape so easy, Mayosky says “I beat the odds.”

Feeling pretty lucky but with a broken arm, he was unsure if he was going to be able to return for ArtPrize 2013, yet here he is, painting away.

For this year’s ArtPrize entry Mayosky is working on a mural entitled Love. “What is love but a chemical reaction, and procreation? Nothing is permanent,” Mayosky says with conviction. "The only unconditional love there is, is family, my daughter.” The mural includes two hundred and ten smaller canvas paintings that will make up a larger image as Mayosky completes those canvases at his temporary "studio" outside of the BOB.

“I have a general idea of where I want to go. I don’t know how I’m going to get there at this point,” Mayosky comments about his piece. “When people are watching they’re like ‘what’s he doing,’ then hopefully they’ll come back.”

Mayosky has been painting for a long time. He knew at a young age he wanted to “make a mess on a wall,” as he describes it. However music was his first artistic outlet. “I was raised around musicians. My father, everybody I was around growing up was a musician,” Mayosky explains. He played the violin and piano, until his mother sold both. “My mother did not want me to be a musician; she was like ‘do anything but that.’ So I guess I chose painting. It’s the closest to music I could get.” For Mayosky “music is the most inspiring thing to paint with.”

When asked what type of music he prefers Mayosky says, “I like all music, as long as it’s good and you can tell if someone put thought into it, rather than just making some manufactured jargon.” However “my most favorite, If I had to choose one to have on a desert isle for the rest of my life it would be some sort of classical, any Russian composer,” he explains.

So why have murals been so prevalent in Mayosky’s works? “I like a challenge” he explains. “Sometimes I open my mouth too big and say, ‘Oh I can do this,’ than I’m like, ‘what did I get myself into” he says with a chuckle. “The biggest wall I’ve ever done was 25,000 square feet, that’s roughly 8 stories,” he says. “That was fun!” Another large project Mayosky took under was one-hundred and eleven Lincolns. That’s right, one-hundred and eleven paintings all of Abraham Lincoln, done for his current home base of Springfield, Illinois. “Old Springfield, that’s a hell of a town," Mayosky says. “I successfully made it through that many Lincolns,” he laughs.

Many of Mayosky's murals are commissioned. “I begin by asking what their [the patron's] favorite color is, first and foremost. Most of the time it’s usually blue or green, which are my favorite colors too, so that makes it handy.” Next, he explains, comes “priming the wall. That can take a couple weeks.” Mayosky uses house paint and drop cloth canvases or paints directly onto the wall. “Muralists don’t have a choice but to paint in front of people,” he says. “I’ll do most of my painting at night, so it almost feels like it’s my own studio.”

Mayosky enjoys performance painting. He has a spinning canvas set up on wheels. “I’m going to hit up the streets and just paint wildly.” While in Grand Rapids Mayosky says, “I’ll go to Founders Brewing Co. and trade caricatures for a beer. It’s fun, the bartenders will get caricatures and I’ll get a beer out of it.” .

If Mayosky did happen to win ArtPrize, “First I’d pay for my daughter’s college. Then I’d invest in my work, buy paint, and a lift,” he explains. “I’d also travel.” When asked where, he responds, “the world.” He plans to sell his each individual canvas from this year's piece and hopes that “different people come buy them, and they get spread all over."


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