The exhibit in the Price and Merkle Galleries February 2-28 is Line and Form: Graphic and Organic Art by Mike Spain. Spain’s work includes acrylic paintings and graphite drawings. The artist reception will be Saturday, February 21 6-8pm.
A Little Rock native, Spain grew up working with his father building homes. He also had a strong desire to sketch and create when time allowed. Elementary school recess was often used as a time to sneak off and sketch. Upon entering college, architecture seemed to be the right career choice. But, looking for more artistic license, he soon transitioned briefly to fine art, then to graphic design. This ultimately was the best way to combine his architectural and artistic desires. In 1984, Spain began work at the Arkansas Times and has been an art director there for the past 30 years. During this time, Spain was the designer on several ADDY Award winning publications. He also created numerous airbrush illustrations and pen & ink drawings for Arkansas Times and Arkansas Business publications and their advertising clients. His “graphic abstract” style of painting is a result of the combined past experience plus admiration of the clean lines of architecture.
“I am somewhat OCD, and that is reflected in my work. My paintings are highly stuctured and trying to organize chaos into an well ordered image. Trying to show that there is an order to what appears as chaos.”
Spain’s first artistic love was graphite, and still is. His smaller graphite works are heavily influenced by Dalí and Picasso, along with other surrealists and cubists. These drawings are referred to as the ‘Vino Drawings.’ They are done while enjoying free time with a glass or two of wine; hence the name ‘Vino Drawings,’” he said.
Spain continued, “The ‘Vino Drawings’ are where I break away from structure and order and explore how far I can take my imagination. I mostly use the female form in these drawings because I find it to be the most expressive of shapes. I often try to create subliminal faces within these drawings. Some of my latest pieces use a broken human shell. Again using the female form for its emotional expressiness to show how we are all, at one time or another, broken and empty.”
Spain’s work was recently exhibited in Stephano’s Fine Art Gallery in Little Rock for the past year. He has also shown in the former Paint Box Gallery and had a piece (O Fortuna) accepted for the Color, Line, Form exhibit at The Fine Art Center of Hot Springs in October. His work was also displayed through this past November at Wildwood Park for the Performing Arts in Little Rock.