The Lovely View
Artists I Know: Michael Gadlin
As I talked with artist Michael Gadlin in his studio in Blue Silo Studios north of Denver’s RINO district, a theme emerged: one of individuality, originality and risk-taking as an artist.
Gadlin’s late mentor, the sculptor Roland Bernier, would often repeat to him, “Michael, painting is dead. That’s why I don’t do it.” For many years, Gadlin thought this meant that he needed to quit painting and start making conceptual art. But over time, Gadlin realized this was not the case. “[Bernier] was wanting me to push– to push my painting. He wanted to challenge me beyond what was just throwing paint down from a design point of view onto canvas and hanging it up and being satisfied with decorating a wall. He was always challenging and pushing,” Gadlin explains. “You know everyone can get a tube and a paintbrush.”
The idea that “anyone” can be a painter seems to hold especially true currently. Any passing follow of artists on Instagram demonstrates a trendiness and similarity in the art being created and disseminated on social media. Artists see other artists’ works in their feeds and think that’s what they should be creating, but that doesn’t lend itself to individuality or trying new techniques and approaches to painting. Instead, it ends up being what Gadlin calls “the culture of sameness.” Thousands of artists creating similar versions of an abstract flower painting or landscape, indistinguishable from one another.
Gadlin, instead, is constantly seeking growth in his work, pushing himself to take risks, to try new things, to innovate his practice. To find his own voice amidst the Pinterest algorithms and newsfeeds that culminate in the “inundation of the same.”