Staff Show 2016: Mike Guy

In this series, Education Specialist for Public Programs Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2016 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 19, 2016.

MIke Guy, "Tunnel Vision"

MIke Guy, “Tunnel Vision”

 

Mike Guy

Mike Guy, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Mike Guy, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Mike Guy is an artist who has been active across the DC area. He received formal training from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, studying fiber arts under Fyuko Matsubara, with a focus in silk painting and printmaking. Since then, he has exhibited in galleries across DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. He has also done large-scale mural projects for schools and businesses in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Mike has independently created pieces for companies including DC Vote, WeWork, Ted X, and the National Academy of Sciences.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I am a Museum Supervisor. The most interesting part is being able to walk through the museum first thing in the morning when all the lights are off. It’s always nice to have the first thing in your day be seeing some great art.

Who are your favorite artists in the collection?

Top three are Kandinsky, van Gogh, and Tack.

What is your favorite gallery or space within The Phillips Collection?

I am partial to the mural on the back wall of the courtyard in the alley (by four artists from Senegal) since I was the lead assistant for it.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2016 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

This painting is from my series of silk paintings Dormant. Each painting consists of one single line, which is quickly created on the silk. The nature of this method makes it so that you can’t go back and edit or erase lines after they have been laid out. I then go into the painting and add layers of color while reflecting on the initial movement in an attempt to find a balance. Each painting is a portrait, but instead of focusing on just the person, I blend them into their environment.

Find more of Guy’s artwork on his website.

The 2016 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view August 14 through September 19, 2016.

Appel to van Gogh: Contrasts of Light and Dark

Appel_van gogh side by side

(left) Karel Appel, Magnolia of the Night, 1989. Oil on canvas, Private Collection (right) Vincent van Gogh, Almond Blossom, February 1890. Oil on canvas, 73.3 cm x 92.4 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

I am completely taken with our Karel Appel: A Gesture of Color. I am so taken, in fact, that Liam Neeson showed up yesterday to rescue me.

I’m kidding, of course. But I did spend an inordinate amount of time standing in front of one painting in particular—Appel’s 1989 work, Magnolia of the Night. I was so enraptured that I ran to our museum shop to see if they had any prints of it. They did not, and rightfully so. The painting absolutely cannot be reproduced in a way that does justice to the original.

Appel_magnolia close-up

Karel Appel, Magnolia of the Night (detail), 1989

Magnolia of the Night stands in stark contrast to the rest of the exhibition. While most rooms burst with effervescent, distorted color schemes reminiscent of Alice’s Wonderland, the room that contains Magnolia represents Appel’s darker experiments. The painting hosts a black magnolia tree, at once innocent and ominous, visible only by the glint of oil against the black matte canvas. Like a flashlight shone into a fog, the outline of the blossoms shimmers, a veiled suggestion of the life and daylight that the tree would normally represent. While the other works in the exhibition seem to speak—no, yell—as you regard them, this one is stony silent.

It struck me so forcefully, however, for more than just its aesthetic value. It reminded me almost immediately of a painting that hangs in my bedroom at home, Vincent van Gogh’s Almond Blossom. It was given to me by my aunt, rather fittingly, as the work was originally a gift from van Gogh to his brother Theo upon the birth of his nephew. I love it because it is devoid of any nightmarish undertones, so common in much of van Gogh’s work, suggesting some gesture of guardianship and affection. As if van Gogh wanted to shield his nephew from the darkest themes of life, and introduce him instead to the most beautiful ones.

In light of these themes, these two works juxtapose each other wonderfully—so well, in fact, that I wonder if Appel was inspired by Almond Blossoms. Unfortunately, he is not around for us to ask, and he never spoke specifically about Magnolia that I can find. But I think he would appreciate what the inclusion of this piece in our exhibition represents—a greater focus on his affinity for experimentation, whereas some have made the mistake of categorizing his work too quickly. The dark is just as important as the light.

Kelsey Frenkiel, Intern with The University of Maryland Center for Art and Knowledge at The Phillips Collection

Drawing, Painting, or Something In Between

Of her work in response to Vincent van Gogh’s The Road Menders, Intersections @ 5 artist Linn Meyers says “The fact that he was really a painter, and that he really used the paint in a visceral way, effected the way that my drawing progressed; it actually started to become more of a painting than a drawing.”