FEARLESSLY MAKING ART

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Michelle Micalizzi, Artist
(All Rights Researved)


The past 2 weekends I have had the pleasure of checking another item off my bucket list. This Bucket list item was added to my list the first Thanksgiving week that I was in Arizona in 2009 when I attended the Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour. The Cave Creek landscape and the vibrant arts community that is here mesmerized me. I thought wow – maybe someday I will have a studio here and I will participate in this tour. I loved visiting my fellow artists’ studios and seeing how they worked and lived. I was reminded of that familiar longing, a gnawing really, to be a working artist. As I walked around the amazing spaces that had that familiar smell of paint, I thought … yes maybe someday? Perhaps when I had made my money as a businesswoman and I had enough to retire on I thought…. Yes. Someday. You see, at that time I was in the process of transitioning a business back East for sale, and it was just three years after I had completed my Masters Degree in Administration (MSA) with a concentration in Organizational Behavior. My choice to get a business degree over a Masters in Fine Art was an act I believed to be my final letting go of that seemingly impractical dream life in the arts, at least until I was about Grandma Moses age. This is what I thought when I signed the college enrollment documents, took out the big student loan and emerged myself into my left/logical brain.

Ironically, it was not until I earned my MSA and spent many years as a self-employed business owner that I found my voice as an artist. Thirty years after Art School on a flight from Portland, Maine back home to Phoenix, Arizona I dreamt up the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business concept as a creative way to market my business Fearlessly Deliver, LLC. The immediate challenge was, how would I meet my ideal client and get them to know, like, and trust me enough to manage a project for them? The Art of Fearlessly Doing Business project was part of the solution. During the process of finding successful business owner clients to execute high-level projects for, I found my voice and my muse not only as a Business Executor but also as an artist doing what I now know is Visual Journalism. I now have solid knowledge of what my voice is and how to describe it. I tell the story of entrepreneurship using words, sometimes video, and images. The most ironic aspect to this newly acquired insight is that the business world that I thought I did not want any part of as a young artist was where I found my inherent artist’s voice. When I had almost given up hope of finding it, there it was hiding in my entrepreneurial family roots, amid my fascination with the every day dreamers who are self-made people. People like my Father – who had a great idea and put legs on it. The kind of people who earned their living one-dollar at a time with elbow grease and chutzpah are the people who truly inspire me. Small business owners who became successful doing something they believe in instead of wasting their skills in a 9-5 job they hate. I am not saying being an employee is bad – it is not bad. It is just not meant for everyone. While learning their stories, I was reminded of my own dreams of being a working artist.

I have heard Joel Olsten say something to the effect that if God puts a longing in you that never goes away – then it is what you are supposed to be doing with your life. It is yours to do. Not doing it is kind of like spitting in God’s face. The longer the longing remained in my life, despite my sincere attempt to be practical, the more discontent I became. When I got off the plane that day in July. I knew what the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business project was and how to execute it.

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“The truth is the will of God for us always means greater freedom, greater self expression, wider and newer and brighter experience; better health, greater prosperity, wider opportunity for service to others – life more abundant.”

~Emmet Fox, Sermon on the Mount

When I got back to my studio office, I immediately got to work before I talked myself out of this crazy idea. Like a person who had something stuck on the tip of their tongue for three decades, I shouted my new truth with my newfound voice. I started the next day making the phone calls to invite the first Fearless 13 business owners to be interviewed and become my muses. In a weird twist of fate, during this process, my husband and I discovered a house that became our home in Cave Creek, which included the studio I had always dreamed of. The studio is a 400 square foot space with a big window that provides plenty of lighting, an few big blank walls to hang and make my art, and a floor I could make a mess on without concern. Additionally, the property included a large yard and a house that both needed a HUGE amount of work. We moved in that August and have since taken five tons of garbage to the dump and are transforming this home. That seemingly random find became my oasis and I now had the dedicated space to create my art and my husband and I have a place to run our businesses.

Laura Dragon, owner of the {9} Gallery, shocked me by generously agreeing to take a chance on me by hosting my first show – a solo show in her gallery in December 2015 before the paintings were even completed. To hold myself accountable, I made a very public commitment to complete the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Project in real time via social media and my Business Networking International (BNI) group. This approach meant that I would share the stories and art on my blog and in weekly meetings as they were completed. My best friend Peg offered to be my editor when I told her what I was up to without me even having to ask her. I wrote all the copy and designed my WordPress website for my business.   I posted the first blog and painting on September 24, 2015. In early October I joined the Sonoran Arts League and shortly thereafter applied for my studio to be in the Hidden in the Hills Tour. In between Art of Fearlessly Doing Business shows this year, I focused my blog on seven key traits of entrepreneurs. From that first effort to December 22nd of this year, I will have interviewed twenty-six inspiring business owners, edited twenty-eight videos, posted thirty-three blogs, created thirty-three drawings and painted one hundred and fourteen paintings for two solo shows and four group shows, which amounts to a total of 262 pieces of work while I managed the projects of my Fearlessly Deliver business clients. That number represents a deliverable every two days since the day when I set my feet back on the ground in Arizona from that plane ride leaving Vermont. Regardless of whether I would sell a single piece of art, these seventeen months have been a success. I have been BUSY. I am FINALLY a working artist living the dream that God put in my heart. Incidentally, more than fifty percent of the work done for the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business has sold. Money earned from making art that enabled us to replace our water heater in the house among other home repairs, which have been a huge labor of love. Every time I take a hot shower I feel doubly blessed.

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“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert

So the question I decided to ask myself this week is WHY make art? Why has this longing not died in me and why do I feel so compelled to make it? My new friend Tina Estes, and her partner Daryl Cowan, came to play music the first Saturday night of the Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour. She has three amazing kids who like to make art. However, it is her middle daughter who is REALLY into art. If you ask a child why they make art, they don’t attach monetary value to the activity. It is all about entertainment, accomplishment and JOY. That is how art started for me, as JOY, and an activity that gave me peace. Over the years my art became my own powerful internal support system. I started journaling as soon as I could hold a pencil and write. I have always illustrated my thoughts; it is just how I think. Throughout high school, college and grad school, all my classroom notebooks were illustrated. I realized at an early age that when I created a visual image alongside the written word, the information was more memorable to me. I do not forget what I draw because I have to truly consider it.

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“I always wanted an alternative existence. By that I mean, I wanted to do something to study my own sentiments and experiences. I found that I could do that by making things – by making art in particular.”

~Richard Serra

I think that Serra makes many great points in this short 2 minute clip. Take a peak if you have a couple extra minutes. One of the things that he said is that he has always made art since he was a kid. Just like me, I believe that many artists ALWAYS have been making art in one form or another. Asking an artist why she makes art is like asking someone why they breathe; it is essential for life. We are compelled to make art just like we are compelled to breathe.

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“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

~ Steve Jobs

I went through an intense period of loss where more than thirty people in my life passed in the span of two and one half years; most of whom passed far too young. There is no more time in my opinion to waste not living the life I am supposed to live. The life I was built to live. As such; now that I have my voice as an artist AND a business woman, anything that does not give me JOY; or help me to complete the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Series, the Fearless Pop Up Project; or serve my select Business Executor clients is a total waste of my time. To uphold that belief, I decided to stop accepting new Business Executor clients until October of 2017 and when I do accept another Business Executor client, the project will need to illicit a feeling of “Holy Crap! I can’t believe I get to work on this project.” Whomever this next client is will have to make my business heart sing. My focus is dedicated to Fearless Art and a few Fearless business owners. Professionally, I know what I am doing, I know why I am doing it and who I am doing it for. What a freaking relief.

What gives me JOY now is in some ways very similar to what gave me joy as a kid. I still love to color and learn. However, there is an additional element to JOY now. JOY is living a life that is mine to live and to do good work – the kind of work that lights me up. I can no longer do the kind of work to just pay the electric bill. We all have to work and it will be a struggle. I would rather exert myself going after the life I was meant to live rather than struggle living someone else’s idea of success. I am also no longer a child or a young art student who believes that making money is evil. I define my life and myself today. This is how my hero’s in art and business lived and this is how I choose to live today. My Mom just lost a dear friend this month, who at age fifty-four, went to bed and did not wake up. Losses like this remind me that the time is NOW. Why make art? – Because I am compelled to and there is no time to waste anymore.

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“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I also want to thank:

  • Joanie and Charlie Wolter, Rhonda Hudson, and Pat Obrien whole heartedly for being the souls that I got to check off this bucket list item with!! What a bunch of rock stars you all are. I am so blessed to call you friends!
  • Pat Demer, Director of the Sonoran Arts League
  • The Sonoran Arts League Board, Committees and my fellow artists, especially the artists I showed with this summer at the Gallery at the El Pedregal and the Black Mountain West Hidden in the Hills Artists
  • Elena Thornton, Arizona Consortium of the Arts
  • Laura Dragon, Owner {9} The Gallery
  • Kirk Strawn, Jennifer Erikson, Trish Turbin, Charlotte Strawn of the Walter Gallery
  • The 2015 and 2016 Fearless 13 who reminded me with every word they shared with me to be fearless myself!
  • My husband Michael Neal for insisting that I paint again and for working so hard to get our home in order.
  • My best friend Peg Quinn for being my editor and biggest support.
  • My best friend Misty Grassley for being my biggest fan
  • My girlfriend Kelly Bolio for making the trip to AZ from CA for my 206 show
  • My parents for being themselves
  • To each and every one of you who showed me kindness and support this year.
  • To the amazing people who purchased art from me. Thank you for getting my art and helping me to pay my bills this year!

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The Illustrations Story

In the spring of 2000 in Vermont and again in 2009 in Arizona, I was going through massive personal change. Daffodils are native Vermont flowers that bloom each spring without my permission or prompting. Amid my disarray at that time, I had forgotten there were daffodils; they were not on my radar, yet they surfaced anyway, announcing spring. Since living in Arizona, I have been awestruck by how many years the Saguaro cactus survives in the desert. It rains only ten days a year here on average yet they thrive to the age of two hundred or more. Both of these plants are tenacious survivors. They are unapologetically themselves, and are proof to me that there is a God.

When I opened my Edward Jones office in 2012 I bought an office full of inexpensive prints from the Goodwill. I needed to add some warmth to my office and fill up the walls, and have always believed in Goodwill’s mission. At the time I thought…. sigh, I should be filling these walls up with my own paintings. How pathetic; I do not even have enough art work to decorate a small office. How did I get HERE? One print was of a tulip, it was in a nice frame and it was only ten bucks. The print was cheap and it had meaning. To make room for all of us to hang our work in the living room for Hidden in the Hills; I moved that tulip from my living room to our bedroom at the foot of our bed. I woke up one day last week and looked at it and said – it is time for me to practice what I preach and only have original art in my house. My goodwill tulip as well as several other prints thatI purchased for my office in 2012 will go back to the Goodwill tomorrow and I will keep one of my tulip and cactus paintings for myself, and I hope the remaining pieces end up in someone’s office!

My goal now is to always have ninety percent of the art that is my home be either my own art or art made by an artist friend in my home and studio. This past summer, I purchased a lovely piece from Maureen Tibbs at the Taos Studio Tour in New Mexico and the artists that are sharing my studio for the Hidden in the Hills event and Ihave all traded a piece of art with one another! I have an Original Pat O’Brien Ceramic piece, a 2 Joanie Wolter sculptures, a Rhonda Hudson Painting and one day we will have a Charlie Wolter piece of glass in our Master Bathroom. Both Joanie and Rhonda took a cactus painting and that makes me VERY happy. I am the change I want to see in the world! 

 


Michelle Micalizzi is a Visual Journalist, Curator & a Business Executor. Her company Fearlessly Deliver, LLC believes that Art is Business and Business is Art! Michelle uses her ability as a Visual Journalist in her Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Series to tell the story of Entrepreneurship and she is the curator of the Fearless Pop Up Projects. fearlesslydeliver.com


EVENTS


 

2017 Michelle Micalizzi Shows

Tiny Works | Tiny Dances II
Dec 2, 2016
{9} Gallery
Phoenix AZ
6-10PM

 Kleidon Micalizzi Dual Show – Title TBA
March 2017
Gallery: TBA
Phoenix, AZ

2017 Fearless Pop Up Schedule

Desk Hub
February 2017
5:30-7PM
Phoenix & Old Town Scottsdale Locations
Details to Follow
fearlesspopup.com

 2017 Art of Fearlessly Doing Business Schedule

Gallery: TBA
April 2017
Phoenix, AZ

 Gallery: TBA
August 2017
Venice Beach, CA

 

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