Speaking with 0H10M1ke

February 27, 2014

You may have seen 0H10M1ke on the streets of NYC or at a public event where he creates instant matchbook portraits of strangers he meets. We discovered him at work on his serially numbered one-minute portraits at the opening of LA2’s solo exhibit at the Leila Heller Gallery this past December.  We recently had the opportunity to find out more about him.

OHIO MIKE draws at Leila Heller Gallery1  Speaking with 0H10M1ke

When did you begin drawing? Is this something recent?

I never had a formal art education, but I’ve been drawing all my life. I started way back as a kid in Ohio. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t doodling or sketching on some surface.

When did you first come to NYC? And what was your initial experience like?

I moved here in 2002, and I became involved with a cult. I gave two years of my life to it, and by the time I left it, I couldn’t even draw a circle. I knew then that I had to reinvent myself.

How did you go about doing that?

The year of my 30th birthday – in 2006 – I did 1,000 drawings.  I started my matchbox series of portraits, and my work was featured in a show in Williamsburg. I completed portrait 10,000 on June, 2011 at Governor’s Island.

Ohio Mike at Leila Heller Gallery NYC  Speaking with 0H10M1ke

Have you continued to exhibit your work?

Yes, I’ve exhibited in a range of places from Berlin, Germany to Governor’s Island here in New York City.

What inspired you to create your artwork in public settings – where you interact almost entirely with strangers?

My inspiration came from seeing UFO’s work on NYC streets.  I love the way his iconic character surfaces unexpectedly.

These days, about what percentage of your time is devoted to art?

About 50%. I am a social worker by profession.

OHIO Mike Sketch  Speaking with 0H10M1ke


How has your work evolved in the past few years?

I began with one-line drawings and I have moved to color, digital and live drawings that I incorporate into performances.

How does your family feel about what you are doing?

My family loves me, but I don’t think they get it.

Any other interests?

Music. All kinds of music. I draw to music. It’s all about art and music. I create live drawings to the music of Comadante Zero, a Brooklyn-based electro funk music/art collective.

Ohio Mike Brooklyn Rooftop art NYC  Speaking with 0H10M1ke

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in all this?

I’m over it. We’ve been oversaturated.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

I learned from Robert Henri how important it is to be a creator. According to Henri, the artist “enlightens and opens ways for better understanding.”

What about you? What’s ahead for you?

My goal is to create 100,000 matchbox portraits and tour with my band as its resident artist.

Ohio Mike Rooftop graffiti NYC  Speaking with 0H10M1ke

Editor’s note: 0H10M1ke will be drawing live with Comandante Zero at The Rubin Museum April 4 at 7 PM.

Photo 1 and 2: 0H10M1ke at the Leila Heller by Dani Reyes Mozeson; photo 3: 0H10M1ke sketch, courtesy of the artist; photos 4 and 5: PhotosL1ght Graff1t1 projected onto Brooklyn rooftop by Oz Skinner

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A stand-out among the street art books published this year is the brilliantly conceived and curated It’s a Stick-Up, designed by Oliver Walker aka Ollystudio with text by Margherita Dessanay. Published by Laurence King, it is devoted solely to the art of the wheat paste, featuring 20 real — easily removable — paste-ups by 20 international artists. Among those featured are two of our favorite Brooklyn-based artists: Dain and Cake.


Dain wheatpaste New York 2012 ITS A STICK UP Features Paste ups by Brooklyn based Artists Dain, Cake and 18 Other Global Masters of the Craft

Dain Eyes For You New York 2012 ITS A STICK UP Features Paste ups by Brooklyn based Artists Dain, Cake and 18 Other Global Masters of the Craft


Cake street art Its a Stick Up ITS A STICK UP Features Paste ups by Brooklyn based Artists Dain, Cake and 18 Other Global Masters of the Craft

Cake wheatpaste Its a Stick Up ITS A STICK UP Features Paste ups by Brooklyn based Artists Dain, Cake and 18 Other Global Masters of the Craft

 Book cover featuring Paul Insect 

Its a Stick Up COVER  ITS A STICK UP Features Paste ups by Brooklyn based Artists Dain, Cake and 18 Other Global Masters of the Craft

All images courtesy of Laurence King Publishing 


DELUSIONAL cover Delusional: The Story of the Jonathan LeVine Gallery

Just how likely is it for a punk kid from a Trenton, NJ working-class background to emerge as a preeminent art dealer in Manhattan’s hottest gallery district?  When Jonathan LeVine spoke of establishing a gallery that would support artists who had been shunned by the mainstream art world, his friend and renowned critic, Carlo McCormick, deemed him “delusional.” But with passion and perseverance, Jonathan LeVine has triumphed, and among the many first-rate artists his gallery features are some of  street art’s finest including Shepard Fairey, Doze Green, Invader, Blek le Rat, WK and Blu. Caleb Neelon’s excellent book, Delusional: The Story of the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, offers an intimate look into the man behind the vision. Interviews with LeVine, along with observations from a range of folks, reveal a deeply humane individual with a fervent mission.

Adrift as a youngster, Jonathan LeVine was reborn in 1985, when, at age 16, he discovered the punk rock scene. The “misfits” this scene attracted were nothing like his high school peers who tormented him for being “different.” Soon LeVine began producing  fanzines and booking and promoting shows — the beginning of a life-long calling of nurturing artists he loved and sharing their work with others.

Delusional the story of the Jonathan LeVine Gallery Delusional: The Story of the Jonathan LeVine Gallery

After graduating from Montclair State College with a BA in art, LeVine spent time on both the West and East coasts, where he met fellow artists and art enthusiasts who now count among his closest friends.  As early as 1996, he organized a solo exhibition of Ron English’s work at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ, before moving on to curating CBGB’s gallery. The following year, he reached out to Shepard Fairey, offering him his first solo show in NYC.

In 2001, LeVine opened his own gallery Tin Pan Alley in New Hope, PA and a year later moved it to Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. But the art market started booming and NYC was calling, so in 2005, LeVine made the move to NYC’s Chelsea, his current home.

Featured in Delusional are dozens of splendid images culled from exhibits that have graced the walls of the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. Interspersed, too, are comments – often insightful and revelatory — from a range of artists who have found a home with Jonathan in Chelsea.

Delusional images Delusional: The Story of the Jonathan LeVine Gallery

Available at most bookstores and online book sellers, Delusional: The Story of the Jonathan LeVine Gallery is currently on the display table at St. Mark’s Bookshop at 31 Third Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets in Manhattan.  You can also pick up an autographed copy at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery at 529 West 20th Street. Enjoy!