Michael Alan

Featuring a selection of large scale drawings and ninety six playing cards, Michael Alan‘s newest exhibition Mind Body Sound opens this evening, December 6, at KHORASHEH + GRUNERT,  524 West 19th Street in Chelsea.  What follows are several more of Michael’s seductively poetic images to be exhibited:

Kindred Spirit the Floating Princess, Watercolor, marker, pencil, acrylic, airbrush, gouache, paint marker on paper, 36″x48″

Sit and Sing, White ink on red paper, 30″x40″

Royal Petite, Mixed media on baseball card

Purple Nurple Grace, Mixed media on baseball card

In conjunction with the exhibit, the artist’s iconic Living Installation will take place in the center of the gallery as Michael Alan and Jadda Cat will create a four-hour HUG human sculpture using their bodies, props, fabrics, sounds and emotions. The Living Installation is by admission only this coming Saturday from 8pm-12pm.

People are welcome to come gather, watch, photograph, make art, become one! For tickets, visit here.

Images courtesy of the artist

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The wildly imaginative and splendidly talented Michael Alan aka Michael Alan Alien is busily planning an artistic tribute to his mom, Raindrop, in his childhood Staten Island home this coming Saturday, June 17th.  What follows is a brief interview with him about it:

What spurred you to plan this tribute to your mom?

All that my mom has done — and continues to do — for me.  She saved me from the dark as I was growing up, and she inspired me to be the artist I am today. My mom is living art.

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Can you tell us something about the role your mom played in your artistic career?

My mom was the first performer in my Living Installation projects. She helped me get started by modeling for my drawings at this very home and by modeling — clothed — at the early stages of Drawathon.  She has given so much to help me forge my career.

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What can visitors to her home — your childhood home — in Staten Island next Saturday expect to experience?

There will be a seven hour tribute — from 5pm to 12am — for my mom with music, models, comedy and a BBQ. It will be on her property, and she will be performing with her husband, Michael, and the cast of the Living Installation. Part of the house will be set up as an installation of my mom’s past memories.  Jadda Cat, Living Installation’s new leader, will perform in a kids’ pool and do face-painting for kids. And there will be a chance for everyone to make art.

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And what about your art? Will any of it be shown at this event? 

Yes, over 60 of my works will be on display, along with photos of my mom and her religious prophesies.

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How can folks attend the event? 

Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchased here.  The address will be provided to ticket holders. It is just a 10-minute bus ride from downtown Manhattan and the perfect retreat!

Editor’s note: For an intimate look into the artist, check out the following video produced by Alan Ket.

Photos provided by Michael Alan; interview by Lois Stavsky

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Ranging from the mischievous to the mystical, Michael Alan‘s ever-evolving body of artwork always entices.  We recently had the opportunity to visit the prodigious artist’s studio and find out a bit about it and its role in his life.

What a great space in such an ideal building! How long have you been here?

I’ve been in this building for two years. I first began sharing a studio here with Nick Greenwald, an illustrator. That was soon after I had lost my previous space to a flood at my home in Staten Island. And when Ashley Azelinskie — who oversees this building — saw his much work I was doing, she provided me with this studio.

Your studio has such a warm vibe. It is so welcoming.

Yes! I have tried to duplicate the aesthetics of my home. I want to work in a place that is relaxed and motivating.

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How did you decide what to transport here to keep you company?

I chose to bring over the artwork, books, magazines and toy sculptures that matter the most to me.

Yes! I’ve noticed baseball cards — that you’ve refashioned — that must have been with you since your childhood. And your black books date back years! What about the logistics of moving everything here and setting it up?

I had put an ad on my Instagram — “Help me move, and we can draw,” — and 40 people showed up.  Then once I was here, Michael Kronenberg, a formerly homeless friend of mine — who’d been released from Bellevue after trying to harm himself — helped me curate the space. The studio is a place — for not just me — to create positivity. I wanted him to have a space he could work with me on, and not end up in a bad space again. He had landed in Bellevue after losing hope in art and ever attaining success. He is a talented artist, and I wanted to encourage him not to let others take him down. And my friend, Janna, helped me turn it into a home. It took about two to three weeks.

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What role does this studio play in your life?

It is my life. My sanctuary. A constant show for myself. I’d always been hesitant to look at my stuff. But now I do. I even put a book together here.

Can you tell us something about what has gone down here — in addition to what you paint, draw and endlessly create?

We host weekly performances and drawing groups that have attracted folks ranging in age from 18 – 70. People of all styles and skill levels are welcome. The next one will be held this coming Saturday evening, March 25th beginning at 8pm. Tickets and more information are available here.   Musicians have performed here, including Ramsey Jones of the Wu Tang Clan. Alan Ket has been here filming a documentary in which I am one of the featured artists. And I give tours to college kids and collectors here.

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How do you feel about this neighborhood — Bushwick?

These days I spend most of my life here. I like this building, and I like the people in it. But Bushwick is not my neighborhood. I find the gentrification here distasteful. The friends I grew up with couldn’t afford to live here. But I’m happy to have a studio here, as so many studios in NYC are infested with drugs, roaches and rats, along with people you don’t want to be around. I’ve been in studios where things were stolen from me and where my mother got robbed.

It’s great that you have this now. What’s ahead for you — in addition to everything that is happening in this space? 

I’m preparing for a solo show in a new, huge gallery, Space 42, in Jacksonville, Florida. It will open on Friday, April 28th at 7pm.

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 Good luck!  It all sounds great!

Photos of images: 1-3 Lois Stavsky; 4 Tara Murray & 5 Michael Alan

Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Back in March, Joshua B. Geyer‘s splendidly curated exhibit introduced us to the World Trade Gallery.  We recently returned as its current exhibit, Deep Calls Deep, again features some of our favorite artists. Pictured above is a recent work by the wonderfully talented and highly imaginative Michael Alan.

Also by Michael Alan

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Rubin

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With Erasmo to his left

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Located at 120 Broadway in Manhattan’s Financial District, the World Trade Gallery is open Monday – Thursday 9am-7pm; Friday 9am-6pm and Saturday 11am-5pm.

Photo credits: 1, 4 & 5 Tara Murray; 2 & 3 Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Michael Alan‘s wonderfully inventive new works remain on view through Saturday at Chelsea’s Tanja Grunert Gallery, 524 W 19th Street. After visiting his riveting exhibit, Nine Lives, we posed a few questions to the prolific artist.

Can you tell us something about the title of your current exhibit? What is the significance of Nine Lives to you?

The title, Nine Lives, is a play on my health issues and my determination to not focus on them, but to take what I’ve I learned and help others through my art. The works in this exhibit expand beyond my human life.

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How have recent life events impacted this body of work? 

Everything that happens to me impacts my work. I represent the tradition of creating work based on my life. My work is my life’s visual journal.

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We love your characters. Who or what inspired them? Are they based on people you know? Or are they simply figments of your imagination?

I see them as part of my visual language — from ghosts of my past to art history references, to my friends and my models and now everyone! Draw the world, and do everything you can do! Life is short. Don’t stay limited or become a brand.

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There’s quite a mix of styles and media on exhibit in Nine Lives. Have you any favorite piece or pieces? Any favorite medium?

I wish I could choose a favorite. My mind would be more simple — in a sense — if I could. But I’m a complex multitasker, and I love all things equally! I try as hard as I can to edit and make each work better or at least equal to the last. I think every piece should all hold up on its own.

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How did the opening at Tanja Grunert Gallery go? It is such a lovely space.

The opening attracted over 500 people. Paul Jacobson had a solo show in the bottom-level gallery, and I loved showing with him. We didn’t have much time to promote our exhibits, but so many people came! Thanks to all! Thank you!

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 What’s next?

I couldn’t say what’s to come, because if I did, I wouldn’t have to do it. It would be done! Every day is a gift, even a bad day! So I just count everything as a blessing…even if it’s a negative.

Photo credits: 1 courtesy Michael Alan; 2-5 Tara Murray and 6 Jennifer Lopez, courtesy Michael Alan

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A new series of painting and drawings by the wonderfully talented multi-media artist Michael Alan will be on view at the Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert Gallery for two days later this month.  The second day of the exhibit, February 25, will feature a Living Installation. Curious about it all, I posed a few questions to Michael.

"Michael Alan"

Can you tell us something about the title Immortal Equations? What does it mean?

For me, great artwork conveys a taste of planning mixed with spontaneity. The great masters made sure your eyes moved all around the picture plane. They sure didn’t want their heads cut off. When I work, whether on a flat surface or on people, I think in terms of something that will live past NOW and, also, has an algorithmic pop to it – whether through color and line or just balance.

The Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert Gallery describes Immortal Equations as a Living Installation, a solo exhibition and a theatrical happening. What can attendees expect to happen? 

I’ve been going through myriads of health issues, so I just wanted to do a 2-day special show. On Feb 24th, day one, there will be an exhibit of some new works. I will be there. It’s a basic opening, but my crowd varies from high-end collectors to my boys I grew up with. It’s a real NY show! And I’m planning to return for a month-long exhibit somewhat later on.

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What about the second day?

On the 25th starting at 6pm, the drawings come to life. I will do my staple event, a Living Installation, with nine others, and six hours of live music by me and Tim “Love” Lee. There will also be six hours of non-stop live-action over-the-top recreation of the human body. 

What would you like your participants to walk away with? What is the mission of this event?

Creative inspiration, happiness, and many thoughts. We live to shut off, especially in a time of high technology. I try to slow time down and let people watch a Human Fish Tank. It’s for the people. I do this for community and for people to come and participate: to make drawings, write and be turned into living paintings.

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Can you tell us something about this specific venue? The curator?  Who else – besides – you will be featured?

The venue is Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert Gallery at 33 Orchard Street off Hester on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Mitra Khorasheh is curating the show. The performers and participants include: David Modelo, Stacey Dawn, Selina Lee, Genevieve Sophie Snow, Kimtacular, Wren, Laura WeylAlyssa D’Anna and photographer Kristen Collins, along with live music by me and Tim “Love” Lee.

How can folks gain admission?

The first night’s exhibit is free and open to the public.  The second night – the Living Installation – is by admission only. For tickets, please visit www.michaelalanart.com under Installation.

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 Interview by Lois Stavsky; photos 1-3 courtesy of the artist; final photo by Kristen Collins

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"Michael Alan"

Earlier this fall, the wonderfully talented multi-media artist Michael Alan released a book of selected drawings and writings. With the limited edition just about sold out, Michael offers some insights into it all.

Why did you decide to publish this book?

I am tired of artistic control. The government. The police.  Most outlets for publication.  I am also tired of solo shows in New York. Super stress to basically make some dumb money and hear people talk about beer. So came the idea of the book. My work is too intricate for the web. It needs to be in your hand. People need to slow down. That’s what books do. They slow you down. I also wanted my friends and fans who can’t — or don’t want to —  buy a painting to be able to own a handmade affordable piece. The book is a work of art.  And I’ve been sick. In case something happens to me, I don’t want anyone rewriting my mind.

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How did you decide what to include? 

Kristen Collins chose the works. She is a lovely, brilliant artist who made this possible. She is passion.

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What are your personal favorites and why?

They are all my favorites. My work is about change. Energy. Life. These differ every day. That’s why I work in multiple styles.

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How have folks responded to the book?

The response has been great. It’s attracted a range of fans – from as far as Australia. We had only gotten the word out on Facebook and Instagram, and we are almost sold out. This will be the first blog to cover it.

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If you are interested in owning a signed copy of the book, you can contact the artist at artisticrevolution@gmail.com.

All images © Michael Alan 

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A multi-media artist who translates energy into mesmerizing artworks, Brooklyn-based Michael Alan is also the founder and director of Living Installations, where human beings are transformed into living art images. Michael Alan’s art has been featured in nine New York solo shows, over 200 group shows and in over 200 living installations. We were delighted to interview this gifted, prolific and passionate artist.

"Michael Alan"

How did you first get into art? What inspired you?

I’ve been into art for as long as I can remember. My first inspirations were the Muppets and baseball. As a kid, I would draw cartoons.

Could you tell us something about the subject of your artwork these days? And the process?

My subjects are often people I observe while sitting here in McCarren Park.  I try to read their energy. I start by drawing a particular person’s body with a pen. And then when I’m back home, I often add watercolor or markers as I interpret the energy that I’ve felt.

What about your Living Installations? What was the initial idea behind them?

I wanted to create a space where people could come together in a positive way.  I wanted people to feel that they could accomplish whatever they set out to do. And I also wanted them to know that they don’t have to follow any pre-determined path.

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How has your family responded to your passions?

They’re proud of me. My mom actually participated in some of my performances.

What percentage of your waking hours is devoted to your art these days?

Including music, about 95%.

Can you tell us something about the role of music in your life?

When I’m working at home, I listen to music. And I always have music playing during my living installations. Music and art become one.

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Have you collaborated with any other visual artists?

I’ve collaborated with my cousin Moody and with a few fine artists including Alex Katz.

How do you feel about the role of the Internet in the art scene?

If it weren’t for the Internet, I don’t know if I’d have a career.

Do you have a formal arts education? And was it worthwhile?

I have a BFA from the School of Visual Arts. As an art student, I received lots of positive feedback and, yes, that did make a difference.

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What’s the riskiest thing you’ve ever done? And Why?

After damaging my spine at the Dumbo Arts Center, I continued moving and dancing.  Why? Because I was ignorant.  Also – setting my hat on fire while performing in Spain was quite risky.

Were you ever arrested?

A few times. Once the cops assumed that I was going to use a mask I had made for an installation to rob someone. And assorted materials – like photocopies of living installation projects – that the cops have found in my car have also led to arrests.

What inspires you these days?

Different people I meet and the energy they give off. Things that happen and how they make me feel – like my grief over the death of my dear friend DG.

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Are there any particular cultures you feel influenced your aesthetic?

I’ve been influenced by indigenous cultures, punk, new wave, African art, growing up in NYC and everything I’ve seen at the Museum of Natural History.

Do you work with a sketch in your hand or do you let it flow?

I work from line drawings.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

Making art — in general — satisfies me. And if a drawing doesn’t work for me, I will somehow reuse it.

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How has your work evolved in the past few years? 

It is more mature, smoother and freer. I’m always learning in art, just as I’m learning in life. Art is life.

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

To touch as many people as possible and to set people free.

What’s ahead?

I can’t even think about it. If I could, I’d be scared. But I know that I will keep going. More art and more struggle. And currently I’m at work on “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” a Living Installation for children.

Have you any message to others?

Whatever you do, push yourself and work hard at it. Working hard and creating art have kept me sane.

Interview conducted by City-as-School intern Travis Hicks with Lois Stavsky; images courtesy of the artist.

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