Artist Mikey Simmons will be featured in the FW Gallery at Woolworth Walk for the month of June which marks the venue’s 20th anniversary. Simmons, who favors style, visual movement, and texture over realism, has been exploring art since he was a toddler. After graduating from high school about 20 years ago and having experimented with a wide range of mediums he concentrated on what he considers his strengths: oil painting, drawing, and collage.
He cites post-impressionism and early modernism as major influences – adding that he is also inspired by his love of flower gardening. Indeed, vividly flowering gardens are one of the most frequent and delightful subjects found in his paintings. “I love color, especially bright color, and use it in my work frequently,” Simmons says. “Even when I try and steer away from bright colors, they always wind up in there.” Some may see nods to Henri Rousseau’s post-impressionistic primitivism in some of his work. “I definitely can see how my work has a Rousseau feel to it,” Simmons acknowledges. “I remember seeing his work in the High Museum in Atlanta and really loving his style. Sure enough, I am, for the most part, a self-taught painter, like he was.”
But Simmons believes his approach is more of a synthesis of styles represented by Picasso, Van Gogh, Derain, and Munch. “I always felt if you were to blend all of their styles together, you would wind up with work similar to what I paint.” And while he derives inspiration from those predecessors, Simmons has definitely found his own voice. Rather than relying on traditional glazing techniques in his painting process, Simmons often applies a very thick, smooth layer of paint. At other times he’ll switch his styles up and use lots of layering. As he explains, “I really like to focus on making each piece as creative as possible. I would describe my work as playful and imaginative over technically well executed.
“The important things for me in my work are movement, composition, color, texture, and above all a unique style.”
The exhibition runs June 1-29. Opening Reception: Friday, June 3, 5-7pm. Woolworth Walk, 25 Haywood St., Downtown Asheville. woolworthwalk.com. 828-254-9234.