So-cal artist judges books by their cover

    

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Mike Stilkey, Untitled Installation of 4,400 books and paint   (photos by Alyssa Cordova )

Artist Mike Stilkey, far right

So-cal artist judges books by their covers 

    Good news!  In
case you missed Costa Mesa’s )( Space Gallery’s inaugural exhibition, Reminiscent: Mike Stilkey, it has been
reinstalled in the Hurley creative retail space in Laguna Beach just in time
for their one year anniversary.           

         Orange
County active wear giant Hurley recently opened their new gallery in Costa Mesa,
CA  to give art-thirsty Orange Countians
refreshing monthly art shows curated by former Billy Shire Fine Arts director Annie
Adjchavanich while
giving Hurley’s own growing family of artists a place to display their artistic
talents.  Alta Dena based artist
Mike Stilkey, a self-taught painter, debuted his most recent work in the new
space.  He paints on repurposed
books, which included a monstrous book installation mural.  Stilkey is quick to point out that all
the books used in his work are discarded books he rescues from public
libraries.

    At
the 255 Forest opening of Reminiscent: Mike Stilkey on July 1, during Laguna Beach’s arts walk, I had the chance to sit
down with Sam Arthur, creative director of retail at Hurley.  He explained to me how the Hurley
space, which opened July 2, 2009 differs from other retail spaces.  “There are three reasons,” Arthur tells me. “ One, this
unique space has a special product mix from Nike 6.0, Hurley, and Converse with
a particular connection to art. 
Two, we emphasize community interaction as a part gallery, part retail,
part art making space and partner with the local high schools and colleges,
doing silk-screening, t-shirt design contests and photography exhibitions and
supporting the local surf and skate kids. 
Three, we have a workshop inside our space where anyone can create
custom products with one of a kind graphics from artists such as Dalek, Robert
Williams and many more.”

            I
decided to check out the Hurley Workshop where the friendly Mike Cuneo was
helping visitors design their own board shorts, tee shirts and Converse shoes.  Designs constantly rotate to keep ideas
fresh and their customization includes either a sublimation process or high
quality digital printing.

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Mike Cuneo in "The Workshop" at 255 Forest   )(  

            Of
all the work in Stilkey’s solo exhibition here, by far the most impressive
piece is the twenty-foot high mural located in the middle of the space. The
4,400 book piece features the illustrative portrait of a man and woman in
shades of black and white, reminiscent of German artist Egon Scheile’s svelte
and languid figures.  Standing at
the bottom and looking up to the dizzying top made me feel like Jack and the
Beanstalk.  It’s part monument to
art, part shrine to bibliophiles. Stilkey particularly enjoys painting the
murals where he can stand and move around the paint on such a huge canvas, er
book pile!  The smaller pieces,
such as Old Man and the Sea he paints
at home where he carefully selects specific book titles.

Stilkeyopening3 The Old Man and the Sea

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    Check
out the show at 255 Forest Drive in Laguna Beach and if time, design your own
surf gear before hitting the waves this summer. 

-Alyssa Cordova

Info on the artist  and Hurley:

HURLEY

Mike Stilkey

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