A few weeks ago we wrote an update on the artist studios at 400 West Rich Street following their first year of existence, and were excited to hear that over 60 artists are already calling the space home with more still to come. One of the reasons we’re excited is because this gives us access to a deep pool of talent to tap into for our ongoing Local Artist Spotlight series. We’ve recently interviewed Sara Adrian and Heather Wirth who both have studio at 400 West Rich, and today we’re adding another to that list with Michael (MT) Bush.
Michael is a transplant to 400 from Junctionview Studios, and someone known most recently for a large collaborative artwork project that wrapped last year. We spoke recently with Michael to find out more about his background and his upcoming art shows. Read on for the full interview:
Q: First, can you tell us a bit about your artistic background from both an educational and personal aspect?
A: I am a self-taught artist. I started painting through an art therapy class that was suggested by a friend. After the first session, I felt the urge to paint and try to create my own world through art. It was such a release of emotions that I couldn’t stop. I moved into Junctionview Studios in 2008, which to me was sort of my art school. I learned a lot from the artists that I became friends with while there — Laura Alexander, Brian Reaume, Jay Moffett, Robert Trautman and Chris Tennant. I would not be the artist that I am today without those amazing people in my corner.
Q: How would you describe your artistic style, and what inspires your work?
A: The best way I would describe my work would be abstract painting based on mood. I try to achieve a distressed look with my paintings. I get a lot of inspiration from dilapidated buildings and other unconventional places.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your collaborative work with other local artists and what inspires you to work in tandem with other local artists on producing new work?
A: It all started with two 4×6 inch canvases that I painted and handed over to my Buddy Zack Burgess (who is an amazing illustrator and was a co-worker at the time) while we were on break at Axis Night club. During the night, Zack doodled two drawings, which were great. I had an instant “light bulb over the head” moment and thought about who else I could reach out to. So I started with Larry Doyle, Marina Goldsteyn and Carolyn Slebodnik. From there I’ve ended up working with over 40 other artists who have helped to create over 70 pieces during a two year time span. That collaboration project was completed in 2011. I really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about who I am as an artist from that project.
Q: More recently, you relocated your studio to 400 West Rich Street, correct?
A: Yeah, moving from Junctionview to 400 has come with mixed emotions. I love Junctionview, but 400 has been a welcome change for a couple of reasons. The central location was an immediate plus for me. The building has loaned itself as an inspiration to my work as well. I find myself staring off at sections and thinking how can I recreate that distressed look. It’s also a great chance for me to place my mark on helping the artist community grow.
Q: What other local arts groups have you been involved with?
A: I was part of Ab-x in 2010, and I participated in their first show at the Ohio Art League space, but stepped back from that to focus on my own work. At this time I am not currently affiliated with any specific art group, but I am working with Robert Trautman on a future project for gay and lesbian artists. I have also helped in the past with behind the scenes type stuff for some of the shows at Junctionview. The first show that I’ve put together myself was the collabo show in 2011.
Q: Are there any upcoming opportunities to see your work displayed?
A: I have two solo shows coming up for the June Gallery Hop with two receptions that night. I will be showing work at Image Optical, and the other will be held at Salon Hotel Lilly. For both shows, I will be donating 50% of my sales to Project Zero. David Yarosz from Salon Hotel Lilly will also be donating 50% of his sales to Project Zero, and Dr. Todd Clark from Image Optical will be donating his 20% commission from art sales as well. I really want to use this as a chance to help out.
I also curate for Union Cafe and have invited some of my favorite artists to provide pieces for the June Gallery Hop there. Jay Moffett, Chris Tennant, Carolyn Slebodnik, Dave Gentillini, Bethany Jozwiak Butler and myself will all be participating.
Last but not least, I have another solo show at Candle Lab in the short north in July. 50% of those sales will also go to Project Zero.
Project Zero’s Mission is “to assure that there are zero HIV/AIDS patients in the Greater Columbus Area that are not receiving the standard-of-care because they cannot afford it.”