Mykl Wells

A Thin Veneer of Consciousness

My work is very driven by internal narrative, I always seem to have some story roaming the halls of my mind and these stories materialize in my paintings and sculpture. I am also visually obsessive. This can be a problem at times on the other hand it brings certain thematic strength to my work as recurring characters and places become the actors and stages of my personal mythos. Friends describe me as brilliant and deeply flawed and as much as I’d prefer that sentence ended at brilliant I’m happy to own it. I try to make the most of my many character defects. Not that I’d want to but you can’t really separate the work from the person. This is maybe why my work tends to be dark and humorous, like a demented children’s story.

I am an obsessive autodidact. Technically I’m mostly self taught, I use a modified Flemish technique in my paintings, first underpainting to develop value then adding color and spectral light effects with glazing and scumbling. Though I use other mediums I am most comfortable working in oil and almost all my paintings are in this medium. In my sculpture I tend to be much more experimental and I’ll use just about any material I can get my hands on. I do a lot of work in cardboard, I frame my paintings in hand made cardboard frames and I’ve been celebrated as one of the leading cardboard artists in the world. I use recycled materials in all my work. The birch plywood I paint on comes from a local cabinet makers dumpster. My oil paints are recovered by a friend who works at hazardous waste. My sculptures use cardboard pulled from the recycle bins. I wish I could claim this was born out of some ethic or desire to save the world but really it was born out of poverty and desperation. I had to make art and I had to have something to make it out of. I started making cardboard sculptures because I had no money and now ironically I make money building cardboard sculptures.

My belief is that if you want your community to support you you need to support your community. For this reason I have tried to be a leader initiating many community and collaborative projects over the years. In the early 1990′s I co-founded the All Souls Procession with fellow artist Susan Kay Johnson. This Dios Del Las Muertos parade through downtown Tucson has grown over the years from a handful of crazy artists to over thirty-five thousand participants in 2012. It is one of the largest non-mechanized, non-commercial parades in the United States. In my current capacity I am heading up the months long free community workshops that lead up to the procession. For three years I organized GLOW! A night time illuminated art event in Oracle Arizona which had hundreds of artists and performers and drew a crowd of 5000 over the course of the two days it ran. There are many examples of my work within the community besides these two. My main motivation is that I want to share my love of creativity and self expression with everyone. I want to ignite a fire in people who may have never experienced the power and joy of making something and to help and encourage those who have.

In 2007 I was laid off from A job as an I.T. director. The mom and pop business I originally had been hired onto was bought out and gutted by a major corporation. Though I continued to work for the corporate office I despised that life. I was deeply unsatisfied with life, unhappy and in poor health. Art was the one thing I was good at and the only thing I was passionate about. I had even tried to leave it behind and found I couldn’t. I decided to recommit to being an artist. This meant not only was I going to make great art but I was also going to learn the business of being an artist. I’d document my work, have a real portfolio, build a website, print business cards, schmooze, develop patronage and get shows. Easier said then done, but I am in a better position than I was five years ago. In five more I hope to be in an even better place. Though I struggle financially and with the business side of this life I manage a meager living. The money I made as an I.T. Director laid a foundation that has allowed me to make this leap but I will never go back. I have a certainty and satisfaction that I have have never before experienced, I can honestly say, I am an artist.