For decades we have been covering the Baton Rouge Gallery’s Surreal Salon, the once-a-year exhibition and juried level of competition that celebrates the pop-surrealist/lowbrow motion, For the 15th version of the Surreal Salon, BRG enlisted Italian artist Marco Mazzoni as the visitor judge, which led to a “Greatest in Exhibit” nod for painter Micah Ofstedahl and his get the job done, Viewing Anew. We sat down with Micah to talk about his function, the profitable piece, and altered states of fact.
Evan Pricco: Let’s converse about your issue make any difference, a refined form of surrealism that is primarily based on the pure earth and these quite realistic landscape paintings. How did expanding up in Minnesota influence this development in type?
Micah Ofstedahl: It is really hard to say how considerably, and in what way, growing up in Minnesota has influenced my present-day design and style. Some of my earliest paintings, which came a couple yrs just after leaving Minnesota, had some nods to the vast, flat landscape. 1 of which, titled “Slice of House”, was centered on a cross-part of the levels of skin turned into a type of surreal landscape. The hair follicles on the floor were being arranged into uniform rows which reminded me of the cornfields I grew up all over. It wasn’t intentional, but might have subconsciously arose from the familiar landscapes. I will also say that my upbringing in Minnesota was conducive to creativeness. Perhaps it’s the extended, chilly winters that hold one inside. I also had creative musical good friends and influential high university art teachers. My school many years have been also spent in southern Minnesota where I began to acquire a model, but with sculpture, ceramics, and drawing, fairly than portray. The landscapes of my new operate are much more directly inspired by my current home location in southern Oregon as very well as from travels. Even so, the landscape alone serves as much more of a backdrop for the surreal or mystical elements that I integrate into the scene. Those have been encouraged by numerous organic varieties, designs in character, or an imaginative concoction from the subconscious.
I lived in Santa Cruz for a long time, and that transfer for you was a detour of kinds, the place you went into new music. Then you went back again to portray. Did you understand just about anything in these transitions, equally in locale and medium, that aided your portray?
I hadn’t completed a lot painting right before shifting to Santa Cruz, and certainly hadn’t designed a style. I had performed about with various mediums these kinds of as ceramic, wooden, and plaster sculpture, and a large amount of drawing. In looking back again at that do the job I can see how it afterwards informed my painting. For example, I commenced having far more imaginative with my determine drawings by using bits and pieces of the determine that stood out to me and positioning them on the paper somewhat randomly and connecting them with my own creative elements. This system continued in a way when I later on picked up the paints. For the duration of my initial number of yrs in Santa Cruz I typically took a crack from visual arts to play music and get the job done a full time day job at a frame store. It was not all that normally that I framed up some inspiring art, but I did get exposure to the operate of Mars-1 by means of prints as properly as some first M.C. Escher lithographs, so that may well have been more than enough to continue to keep the flame likely. I am sure I was also encouraged by the adjust of surroundings from Minnesota. I tried out to get outside as considerably as probable into the redwood forests and beach locations, and that most likely has influenced my work in some way, even if it can be just by way of a larger appreciation for character. The direct inspiration early on, nevertheless, came from a Grey’s Anatomy e-book, and shortly just after, the organic illustrations of Ernst Haeckel, of which I came throughout whilst residing in Santa Cruz. I was intentionally searching for some form of inspiration because the band had stopped and I needed to paint, but truly experienced no plan where by to get started or what the outcome would be.
If you could explain your art in just one sentence, what would you say?
Real looking representations of observable fact altered by invisible mysteries of existence manufactured noticeable.
(Ideal in Show get the job done, Looking at Anew, acrylic on canvas)
Tell me about, a single, the thrill of profitable this year’s Surreal Salon, and also, the tale behind the profitable portray by itself?
I was absolutely thrilled and surprised when I acquired that phone phone. It was my initial time having into the Surreal Salon, so that was an honor in and of by itself, but to get that kind of recognition or validation is really exclusive, and profitable a prize is not anything I have skilled extremely usually. The piece by itself, named “Observing Anew”, is based mostly on a southern Oregon landscape with a glassy orb impressed by an Ernst Haeckel illustration of a siphonophore. The pattern kind of looks like a bunch of eyes which also reminded me of some of Alex Grey’s paintings of repeating eyes. I ended up arranging them in a sphere to depict a higher consciousness and seeing things from numerous angles and looking at them anew, as a result the title.
It can be always exciting to be regarded by your friends and other artists. Profitable an award just isn’t normally the stop sport, but what can you discover about entering and winning Best in Present?
It is a good reminder and motivator to hold striving, as cliche as it seems. As you reported, it can be not the conclude match but can be a self-assurance increase or a little push. There are so a lot of other artists who are just as deserving of the award, which includes some who did not even get into that particular exhibit. You can find so significantly subjectivity when judging art, so no matter if it truly is a get or a reduction, I just have to hold painting and placing it out there.
What is actually next and on the horizon for you?
As far as impending reveals, I have a solo clearly show at Ryan Joseph Gallery in Denver in August. I also have some group shows on the horizon at Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia and my 1st museum encounter at the Museum of the Southwest in the Fall of 2024. As much as the perform is regarded as, I don’t have any major changes prepared but I will proceed to evolve and I often keep open up to new ideas. I had a improve in way a number of years ago, so anything like that could happen once again.
Discover far more about Surreal Salon 15 in this article.