Michael Finnegan Art

About

 
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Engage with life.

Water, Music, carpentry, and color

I was made in Hawaii and raised on the Chesapeake Bay and Oahu. I've lived and worked in Seattle, Washington and on Deer Isle, Maine. My Chicago studio is a short walk to Lake Michigan. Water, light, and color strongly influence my work. See the pattern?

But there's more to my art, it's kind of tough to explain. Here goes.

A big chunk of my being is music. A typical 70's kid with a passion for Hendrix and the electric guitar brought me to the Berklee School of Music as a young man. There I realized that I don't listen to music as much as I see it. I see color in it. I see pulse in rhythm. It's physical to me, something I can touch.

Ultimately, holding  something I made is why I fell in love with carpentry—crafting objects people interact with every day. I spent much of my professional life as a stair builder and carpenter.

These experiences fuse together in my art. I paint on three-dimensional surfaces constructed out of furniture-grade plywood and other materials, including Kevlar and velvet. My studio practice includes the use of pencils, a laptop, sable brushes, industrial HVLP spray guns, hand tools and power tools, adhesive vinyl, and acrylic paint.

Who are my influences?

The art I saw as a kid in museums like the Hirshhorn had a big impact on me. Works by Pop artists, the Color Field painters and the whole swirl of late twentieth century American visual culture; comic books, album covers, music poster art, California surf and skate culture, it’s all in me somewhere. I’ve always been drawn to the power of color.

I’ve heard that the influences of Josef Albers and Ellsworth Kelly can be seen in my work. However, I owe a lot to the artists Bridget Riley, Martin Puryear and Bill Frisell. To me, they seem heroically dedicated to the creation of strong artistic statements that celebrate life. They thoroughly engage with their inspirations and speak to mysteries. I’m working to be part of those conversations. I’m looking to make music visible. I’m listening for clues and seeing colors resonate.

 
 

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