Michael Alan 'Energy Reader' Opening January 12th
We spent some time with Michael Alan to discuss upcoming projects, awareness of both past and present and what inspires when creating experiences within his works. 2014 means an upcoming solo show at Gasser Grunert Gallery, Energy Reader, opening January 12th, in addition to many international projects in Mexico and Prague. Continuing to further explore music, he also just released his latest album, Kicked in the Mouth, inspired by those who have come and gone.
The point of all of this is, that its not about me. fuck Michael Alan. Who cares? I am more interested in the impact of the root, expressing and having conversation through art and time. Maybe saving lives, making kids stay home and read. My dad brought these Dali prints and it saved my life. I believe art can save lives and its more than a lot of things than we have. Its crazy. You could drink five thousand healthy shakes or make one crazy painting and the domino effect can change the world.
Its been a crazy year for you since your accident, how is the recovery process going? What would you say helped you through that, aside from creating?
Taking my time , using it wisely. You have to really muster up your energy and use it the right way. Stay smart, plan, be swift, no distractions. It gave me time to edit, its good to have time to edit, artists are editors. It’s important to take time and make your moves, like chess.
What do you anticipate in 2014?
I don’t like to anticipate too much, I just want to do what I do and do it the best I can and keep working. Anticipation is potential failure.
I have a solo exhibition, Energy Reader comprised of 30 – 60 different works. Emotional read, energetic read, life being captured from my read and being present during the experience. The accident has really allowed me to slow down and muster up that energy. It’s really two shows, with an installation on closing night.
Kicked in the mouth is a brand new album that just came out. That was something I dealt with from having part of my spine removed and just dealing with how cold people can be, who you think care. They want things from you because you’re a painter. You think they are your friends but really they want your paintings. Or some way to say they are you friend. Call them out and get away from them. Lol
I’ll also be traveling to Mexico City to paint various children’s hospitals for cancer.
My parents house, its about to be destroyed in the next few months, its either being torn down or sold. My mom is really well known in the community, Raindrop. This whole house has been a legendary place during my life. I have been dealing with that recently.
With Whom would you like to collaborate with in 2014?
I’d like to collaborate more with certain museums and bring ideas to how they could do more interactive installations. I want to set up a little area with a desk, I am there, working in the museum, drawing the viewers, and I am asking them about themselves, creating an experience. A collaboration with institutions that brings people into the art. I just did one with the New museum as part of an outdoor installation. Within this, there would be room for other artists to be involved.
Its always great to see artists collaborating and incorporating music into their works. How did you choose the artists featured on Painting Life?
I used to make music with some pretty big people. I brought JAY Z for his first show, Wu Tang Clan before they were blowing up. I was friends with Japanther already. I did numerous amounts of live shows. I have a musical background, fan, collaborator, open mic hops, appreciator. I have always had a strong belief in music. I had all the equipment and all my friends were becoming part of the scene. Tommy Ramone and his wife Claudia are like family to me. I just shot Ariel Pink an email. Doing this project made sense. I used to do mail art. I was thinking about Ray Johnson and How to Draw a Bunny. I would reach out to people and people started to reach out to me. It just spread and was really positive. No record rights trouble. Residents was the icing, they were a big influence and kind of started that genre. I went to the concert through the New Museum and straight up told them the truth about how I felt. The truth set you free, if you are straight up and honest with people. I have followed that since I was a kid,
The list of musicians who got involved kept growing. It gives us something to practice to, its the strangest 9-12 hours of music but it just works.
You can’t be scared of talking to people.. Healthy communication, positive communication, community communication. You have these things behind you.
The living installation is experiential and another way to make your work accessible. Who do you think is doing that right now in their work?
I think there is a big lack of that due to how popular art is, over saturdatrion, when anything becomes super popular, its hard to see. Jan Svankmajer, Kentridge, Kenny Sharf, a few friends, Joseph Meloy and Kroneberg. Its limited. The bigger you get, most artists don’t even touch the art themselves. Its hard for me to feel that way, coming from a lot of the art in the 80s, graffiti has become pop, its kind of strange You still have your stand out people like moody or cost raw, People can tell if its a true experience or if its some kind of party or scene. People can smell it. Everyone does what they feel, I have to do what feels exactly right for me, what I signed up for within art, creative freedom, artistic revolution, not to be a model, not to be a millionaire.
Being a native New Yorker, where else could you spend time or where would you want to experience in the future?
I’ve travelled all over Europe, I’m going out to Prague to do some work in March, to me its difficult, I am a real New Yorker. Things have changed for me in my life as I become a full time adult. This is my stomping ground, a lot of history and friends, how I have become who I am. Its also changed and keeps changing so much, and my work is about change. Like this thing in Mexico I have upcoming. If the place is right for what I am doing, not just drawing, trying to be artistic, activist, productive, positive, whenever that is, thats where I will be.
Whats in your playlist right now?
Wu tang, they are doing some come backs and I am friends with them, grew up around them. I’m all over the place, the new Ghostface album to Residents. I spend most of my time researching music. Drive, that movie soundtrack. I think within video and music people are really pushing boundaries.
We spent a day with you and shot you at a museum sketching, do you do that often? Any particular eras that speak to you verses others or spots in which you regularly find yourself?
If you hang out with me, I plan on doing the same thing as I do ten to twelve hours everyday, you captured part of my life. All I do is draw. I am a big fan of the MET. Growing up in New York, I went there so much. Before Mondays were closed, I would have the whole place to myself. It was literally me and maybe one security guard. I have a connection to it. I know the whole place really well. I was responsible and they knew I was working. The MET represents time and my work is a lot about time placement, different times. I don’t believe in one time, one space or one thing, I think that alienates people. When I go to the met, there is so much energy. If I am an energy reader, what better place than the MET to do that?
All photography: Ethersock
Michael Alan Alien