Higher Ground | Michelle Micalizzi, Artist
(All rights Reserved)

It is my sincere belief that there is no greater calling in life than to help others earn a living and make a rewarding life.  Furthermore, I believe that business owners who give back are in many ways the backbone of our country. There are countless worthy causes to support, and businesses that have a mission that transcends making a profit are truly what makes the world go around.

I also believe that artists are business owners.  No one mentioned this fact to me when I was in art school or in business school for that matter. I only became comfortable with this fact as a byproduct of creating the Art of Fearlessly Doing Business (AoFDB) series.  Check out to learn more about that project and meet the thirty-nine Valley of the Sun business owners I have featured so far.

In the process of interviewing business owners over three years for the AoFDB Series, I have come to a deep understanding that business is art and art is business.  I have also discovered, much to my surprise, that my passion for art, business and community is one in the same. Thankfully, the AoFDB forced me to apply the work ethic I have always applied to my businesses and community service to the creation of art.  As a result, I gained rock solid confidence that comes from truly knowing what my purpose is on this planet. Through this project I uncovered not only a meaningful way to give back but more importantly, I found myself. The process of creating the work helped me to finally articulate simultaneously who I am as an artist, a business person and a human being.

I am a socially responsible creative entrepreneur, a visual journalist and a social practice artist. I collaborate to tell stories using words and images with my primary muses being entrepreneurs. The purpose to all of this is to inspire people to be FEARLESS and reach outside of the box for their dreams.

The Art of Fearlessly Giving Back (AoFGB) is my next fearless art project incarnation. I invited fellow fearless entrepreneur with a heart, Tyler Butler, CEO of 11Eleven Consulting, to team up with me on this community awareness series that focuses on one company’s social responsibility mission and the charities that they support.  The goal of this social practice art project is to creatively demonstrate through visual journalism how giving back to communities is not only smart business, but the real reason most companies are in business.

11Eleven Consulting inspires companies who operate with a conscience. 11Eleven enhances humanity while creating a brighter future for organizations to promote and steward rewardable reputations.  Check out to learn more about Tyler and her life’s work. I am sure you will be as impressed as I was when I invited her to be one of the Fearless Thirteen entrepreneurs I featured for AoFDB III.

I am extremely excited that the company that we have chosen to work with on this project is WebPT. With a 30% market share and 99% retention rate, WebPT is the leading rehab therapy platform for enhancing patient care and fueling business growth. Launched in 2008, the company is based in downtown Phoenix’s historic Warehouse District. The organizations that WebPT has chosen to champion in this  project are Conscious Capitalism, PT Day of Service, Support My Club, The Arizona Science Center Girls in STEAM initiative, United Blood Services and the Desert Labrador Retriever Rescue.

Tyler Butler, Michelle Micalizzi and Heidi Jannenga at the WebPT offices in the Pheonix warehouse district.

WebPT is my kind of company and Heidi Jannenga is my kind of leader. She is an inspiration because she personifies the power of what  one individual can do to positively impact the world.  Like every great entrepreneur, she saw a problem in her industry and she was compelled to solve that problem. She and her cofounder started in the back of a coffee shop with only a laptop and a dream. In just nine years, two employees who bootstrapped their way to greatness became three hundred. Client number one has multiplied into ten thousand. Heidi is humble. She does not claim that success came easily, in fact, quite the contrary. The values that she and her employees declared important speak to doing business in the real world with real people.  In the tradition of author Robert  Fulghum’s,  All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, WebPT’s values are simple: make friends, say you’re sorry, work hard, be nice, think smart, share, be thrifty and take care of yourself. Isn’t that refreshing?  I think so.

In this series, I will be focusing on WebPT’s core values and how each charity exemplifies those values.  Over the next fourteen weeks, I will interview the leadership team of WebPT. A blog highlighting five key takeaways and a painting/sculpture will follow each interview. These paintings are deliberately big, measuring 36” x 60”. Each WebPT conversation will be followed by an interview with each organization’s leadership. Those interviews will also inspire a blog with five key takeaways and a 30” x 30” painting, or a sculpture as will be the case for the Arizona Science Center.

The opening art reception for this series which will feature sixteen paintings and at least one sculpture at The Arizona Science Center in the CREATE Makerspace on May 18, 2018 from 6-9PM. The opening will align with Art Links Phoenix 3rd Friday Art Walk. The work will be auctioned the night of the opening and online for the benefit of the six charities.  There will also be a retail store available online featuring items from all the work in the show.

It is my hope that this project encourages you to work, live, grow and FEARLESSLY GIVE BACK on purpose.

This post originally posted on Labor Day weekend of 2017. Due to several changes in several  of the leaders featured in this series schedules this project was postponed in September 2017 to re-start in January 2018.  

Labor Day weekend is a weekend that we all anticipate as a well-deserved day off that also includes the unofficial end of summer. Officially, per the United States DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, this holiday is defined as follows.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

It is evident in what these organizations do on a daily basis definitively contributes to our nation’s strength, prosperity, and (most importantly) well-being.

With this blog post the fourth Fearless art project is officially back in motion. Keep your eyes open for Facebook live ticklers for each interview as well as my work sessions in my gallery.  I encourage you to comment and share your thoughts on my Fearlessly Deliver blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram. You can also sign up for the fearless newsletter at


As I was thinking about each of the organizations I am about to highlight in this series and their individual missions; a mountain range naturally came to mind because all of us have our own mountain to climb. We all have peaks to surmount, while simultaneously sharing the same bird’s-eye view from our respective pinnacles.

On my first trip to Arizona, I was awestruck by the McDowell Mountain Range.  Once I moved here, I took a ride on my Harley up Route 89 to Prescott and upon taking in that quintessential mouth-dropping  Arizona view; I was overwhelmed with its presence. Anyone who has been to Sedona or the Grand Canyon knows that Arizona is a land of extremes.  This phenomenon intrigued me so I started to explore that idea, and after a Google  search on “mountain ranges,” I found the following information in Wikipedia, which made me chuckle.

mountain rangeor hill range is a series of mountains or hills ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain systemor mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure and alignment that have arisen from the same cause, usually an orogeny.[1]

An orogeny is an event that leads to a large structural deformation of the Earth’s lithosphere(crustand uppermost mantle) due to the interaction between tectonic plates. An orogenor orogenic belt develops when a continental plate crumples and is pushed upwards to form one or more mountain ranges; this involves many geological processes collectively called orogenesis.[1][2] 

Having a Higher Ground is exactly what all of us have in common. Like Stevie Wonder sings in his song “Higher Ground,” none of us are stopping until we reach that higher ground. I also reflected about the idea of what an orogeny actually is. The fact that the earth literally had to crumble to form every mountain range is genuinely powerful.  That fact resonates for each  contributing  organization because every group has a problem to solve, and as a result, every day we do move mountains.  We are all proud disrupters. Each of us acknowledges that only disruptors can move and climb mountains.

Another irony that struck me personally is that if I had not torn my Achilles tendon while running up the back of Tom’s Thumb in 2013; this entire project would not have taken place because I would not have had to reinvent myself AGAIN.  Yes, mountains can undo us but not for long because we always get back up on our feet to climb another day!

ORIGINAL POST DATE :  Sep 3, 2017 06:04PM


Conscious CapitalismThe Arizona Science Center Girls in STEAM, PT Day of ServiceSupport My Club,  The Desert Labrador Retriever Rescue and United Blood Services of Arizona.

MAY 18, 2018

The Arizona Science Center
Create MakerSpace

600 E Washington St
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Media Contact:
Tyler Butler


As a social practice artist, a business woman and a visual journalist Michelle Micalizzi paints with a purpose. The Fearless Art Projects are collaborative social practice art engagements that connect art + business + community.

The ART OF FEARLESSLY GIVING BACK (AoFGB) is a community awareness series that focuses on one company’s social responsibility mission and the charities that they support. The goal of the project is to demonstrate how giving back is not only smart business, but the real reason companies are in business.

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