Michael Garcia is a fixture in Fresno for a reason.
Artist, former gallery owner and someone who’s known to make ArtHop noteworthy, he’s made a mark on the area art scene through his signature aesthetic, as well as his spirit.
Garcia’s textural mixed media art incorporates wood, paint and metals rendered through an arduous process of building up and stripping away that renders pieces with an appearance of age and natural decay. He typically uses minimal geometrics – particularly the maru, Japanese for “circle” – combined with heavily manipulated surfaces weathered to suggest both loss and endurance.
A Fresno native and graduate of Cal Arts, he says that his process was strongly influenced by Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, along with images of rusting factories and memories of a weathered barn behind his grandmother’s home in Madera.
“Time Marijuana” by Michael Garcia, 2023
He developed an interest in calligraphy as a child, a passion he eventually honed into craft by moving to Japan and taking up Shodo (“the way of writing”), traditional calligraphy that combines high art, writing and Zen practice. Over the next ten years, he taught English while developing techniques and a style informed by Japanese aesthetics, yet rooted in home.
Garcia begins by coating wood panels or pieces in thick layers of materials such as house paint, oil paint and wax, or sometimes liquid copper and iron oxidized to mimic natural rusting. Then he burns, sands, scrapes and otherwise excavates these veneers to reveal the piece, materially transformed.
As he notes in a 2018 interview for a solo show at 1821 Gallery, when first practicing this process, he rapidly discovered that “the wood is going to play a part in the art, as opposed to a platform.”
This revelation continues to guide him as he experiments with materials, methods and ideas about how art may express the passage of time, and the touch of generations of human hands.
Garcia has been a dedicated supporter of the Edward O. Lund Foundation from the start. Each October, he generously donates pieces to our “Scotch, Brew & Art Affair” auction, helping us raise funds to send deserving Fresno State art students to study abroad.
He currently shows work in his Madera studio and routinely creates a stir when his work appears on a Fresno ArtHop. Last year, the Downtown Artist Gallery featured recent work in two solo shows, including a November limited exhibition themed “Memento Mori” (“remember, we must die”).
He continues to travel to Asia regularly.