Mercer Gallery hosting mixed media exhibition

GARDEN CITY — The Mercer Gallery is hosting mixed media artist Ron Michael for an exhibition titled “Pondering the Prairie Substrate” through March 8.

Michael is a working artist and the director of the Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery in Lindsborg. Prior to being named Director in 2014, he served as Curator for 14 years and Registrar for three years. Michael has exhibited in many regional and national exhibitions, taught collegiate art courses, juried numerous art competitions, and been involved with several regional arts organizations.

Michael’s artwork consists of sculpture, vessels, disks, and drawings that are inspired by the landscape, soil and geology of Kansas. Although most works are conjured from his imagination, they reference organisms, objects and remnants that mingle in this subtle and alluring ecosystem.

When creating pieces, Michael tries to infuse them with a natural history-like quality and sublime sense of mystery. He embraces a weathered, loosely-crafted aesthetic, along with ideals of directness, imperfection, texture, asymmetry, and a touch of humor.

The Mercer Gallery will host a First Friday Reception for the show from 5 – 7 p.m. March 1, featuring live music from the GCCC Faculty Jazz Ensemble. Michael will also be available at the Mercer Gallery on March 1 for an demonstration and lecture from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  All events are free and open to the public. The Mercer Gallery is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Michael is a proponent of the slow art movement and frugal art making practices.  He employs simple methods and advocates art made at a human scale. Hand tools are the norm and, when practical, locally sourced materials are used. His ceramic pieces include a high percentage of Kansas clay (usually dug in Jewell or McPherson counties) that are formed using hand-built or wheel thrown techniques.

For many sculptural pieces, he uses regional stone and upcycled or locally sourced wood.  In addition to making three-dimensional forms, Michael creates graphite, ink, and colored pencil drawings. This provides an opportunity to translate and transform his ideas using pencils, pens, erasers, and paper.

In the spring of 2000, Michael received an M.F.A. in ceramics from the University of Kansas. Prior to working at the Sandzén Gallery and attending school at KU, he served as a temporary reference librarian for the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California, and taught high school art in Seneca, Kansas. In 1995, he received a master’s degree in library science and information management from Emporia State University. He also has two undergraduate degrees from Fort Hays State University: a B.F.A. in ceramics and B.A. in communications.