The idea of destiny, serendipity, fate or luck may sometimes feel like nothing more than the idealized fantasy of a Disney film. In many ways, there come moments in our lives when things do fall into place, and an entire life of success, failure, tragedy and joy become vindicated in a succession of movements which feel destined.
Many people think the universe magically will align itself; their number will come up and the life they’ve always wanted just happens, but life is not so simple. Two great icons in literary history have noted a self-motivation propels us forward. Shakespeare said, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” John Lennon stated, “There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”
This idea of creating our own lives embodies the work and story of recent transplant Mykel. An abstract artist by way of San Francisco, Mykel’s journey began in Georgia. “Growing up there, I was a very hyper-active kid, so my parents enrolled me in a local art class,” he tells. “I ended up having an excellent mentor who really fostered a love of art in me and pushed me to create more.”
During his classes, Mykel found a sense of calm and peace. The kid who was full of energy stopped to take a moment and reflect. “One day my teacher gave me a piece of rice paper, which has a different texture than regular paper,” he explains. “Not knowing what to draw, he also gave me a photograph of a city skyline which I started to paint. I quickly got frustrated, and, unhappy with what I had created, I crumpled the paper and threw it away.”
His teacher fished out the paper from the bin, due to its expensive quality. He then taught Mykel how to make windows, and insisted the student finish his work. So impressed with the final piece—despite Mykel’s displeasure of it—the teacher framed it and entered it into a county art show. The youngest contestant at only 8-years-old won; it ignited Mykel’s artistic passion even further.
Returning to study art in college, Mykel found passion in another palette: the restaurant biz. Though working and owning an eatery in Georgia, Mykel eventually found himself across the states, uprooted from his Southern lineage. He bounced around restaurants in the Bay area, and didn’t devote a lot of time to his art. After contemplating a move to Santa Cruz, a few of Mykel’s close friends accepted a job in Wilmington. They suggested he visit, and as a fate would have it, Mykel’s grandfather—at one time dean of Wilmington College (now known as UNCW)—once resided here. Though Mykel had never been here, he heard his grandparents talk fondly of how much they loved the port city and considered it one of their favorite places. Though uncertain of making the coastal move, Mykel went against his instincts and returned to the South. He became integrated into the growing artistic community of Wilmington and thus far, it has paid off.
Upon moving, Mykel found a home at ACME Studios and has rediscovered his voice. He finds inspiration from daily walks and photographs he takes throughout the city. His inspiration never wanes, as his works remain vibrant and playful.
“By just touching paint to paper I often find inspirations,” Mykel explains. “My works have a story—sometimes allegorical with the same images and symbols appearing in multiple works.”
Mykel hones a free-for-all approach to painting or doing installations. It’s what he refers to as “wurks,” which define his creations as hard work but with a hefty dose of fun. “My process includes impulsivity, compulsion, intuition, finding order and letting go,” he explains. “I didn’t want to simply refer to them as ‘work’ because that has such a negative connotation, but I wanted to call them something that embodied both the aspect of hard work and enjoyment that goes into them.”
His “wurks,” for any art-history buff, resemble art reflective of masters like Paul Klee, Kandinsky, Joan Miro, Picasso and Chagall. Much of his gestural, expressionistic aspects tickle the styles often seen in de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.
“My wurks can be associated with jazz music, Beatnik poetry, eastern aesthetics, totems and shamanic story telling,” Mykel describes.
For the artist, transplanting to Wilmington equals a personal pay-off. Changing destiny renews creativity and introduction to a thriving, inspirational group of artists at ACME. “Love, Gravity and Pigment: Abstract Water Wurks by Mykel” hangs at the gallery throughout the next month.
Love, Gravity and Pigment
Abstract water wurks, 2012-2013
ACME Art Gallery
711 N. 5th Ave.