“Massurrealism is an art form rooted in the interplay between mass media, pop art, contemporary culture and Surrealist imagery.” — Michael Morris
Report by Paula Antolini
March 8, 2016 10:38AM EDT
Image above: Sue Ellen Sprock Landwehr, Gallery Curator, and artist Michael Morris, at the opening night of the exhibit, Bethel ARTSPACE, March 5, 2016.
Click on photos to view larger.
Bethel Arts Exhibit of Michael Morris Work, Originator of Massurrealist Art Movement, Is a Must-See at Bethel ARTSPACE
If there’s ever an art exhibit that you should not miss, it’s the exhibit at Bethel ARTSPACE by award-winning artist Michael Morris. This is an amazing collection of years of work, mostly over-sized paintings and sculpture by Morris, along with smaller framed paintings and prints, presently on exhibit at the Bethel ARTSPACE gallery at 91 Greenwood Avenue. The art opening, hosted by Bethel Arts, took place on Saturday, March 5th, from 6-8 p.m.
Image above: Local artists Dave Gesualdi (left) and Frank Kara (center), and Bethel Economic Development Director Janice Chrzescijanek, at Bethel ARTSPACE on opening night.
Image above: Michael Morris talks to a young future artist.
Image above: “Steamed Up” by Michael Morris.
Michael Morris is an originator of the Massurrealist Art Movement, and describes the style this way: “Massurrealism is an art form rooted in the interplay between mass media, pop art, contemporary culture and Surrealist imagery. The term massurrealism was first coined by artist James Seehafer. This movement includes many meanings: First, is the concept of mass, as in the mass media of television, advertising, and the internet etc. Second, the products of mass production, as in the new phones, automobiles, and jet aircraft, vacuum forming, etc. Third, are images from mass culture, beer cans, beach balls, shopping carts, swimming pools, fashions, etc.
“Encompassing inexplicable concepts from the mass studied by particle physics to vibrational energy and the ideas of oneness of all matter. In other words, combining visual icons from the outer world (what we call reality) and the inner world (the surreal, the venue of the subconscious). Including the big mass/weight we feel and attribute to our emotions, our thoughts, and of course our dreams.”
Image above: “Ying” sculpture by Michael Morris, with work-in-progress painting in background. Image below: Morris’ table with supplies for painting.
Image above: DNArcisus (left) and Vitruvian Barbie (right) by Michael Morris.
Image above: “Vitruvian Barbie” (left) and “Primarily Mozart” (right) by Michael Morris.
Upon entering the Bethel Artspace gallery, to your left is a painting in progress that Morris will be working on during gallery hours. The image is a beach scene with numerous umbrellas, done in two panels, and is mostly complete except for the top area. You can watch the artist at work!
Subject matter of the paintings for this exhibit range from florals, nautical, geometric, music, dolls, landscapes, trains, traffic lights, fantasy, and more. Many have water elements, so expertly created by Morris, and his whimsical clocks. Examples are “Tick Tock” (Original Oil Size 5’9″ square) which is a harbor view, bridge, and a pocket watch swinging, and “Tokyo, New York & Paris” (Original Oil Size 5’9″ square), a painting containing clocks, ocean and other design elements.
Image above: “Tick Tock” by Michael Morris.
Also on display is “Ying” (16″ X 16″ X 17″, Carrara Marble), cut from a single block of marble. Another sculpture shows the reverse cuts and a wooden framework that explains the dynamics of Ying, as all measurements relate in equal multiple triangles and squares, Morris said.
Image above: Another view of “Ying” sculpture by Michael Morris.
Morris spoke at length about his design process of of the work in marble entitled “Ying.” During the first design stage, after he was able to obtain the desired cubic foot of marble, Morris said he asks himself, “How can I cut this to make it really terrific?”
We asked Morris, “Is this your first process, how you figure it out?” Morris replied, “This is where I figure it out. I mean, I made a lot of drawings, but then I made this to figure out how to cut this” (pointing to the blue wooden grid structure he had constructed, now laying inside the reverse design of “Ying,” that is also on display in the gallery). “So then I took the cubic foot of marble up to Vermont where they have computer saws.” Pointing to areas on “Ying” once more, Morris said, “I knew I wanted this 4 inches, and 4 inches, I wanted that to be a square, so I wanted this cut out, and a certain angle to do it. So they put it into the computer, and 20 minutes later this is all cut.”
Morris continued, “Now at home I have these two pieces which I’ve glued back together. In the afternoon sunlight it sits on one of these pillars, the geometrics and the shadows, just exquisite. But, this weights over 120 pounds, these two.”
Referring again to “Ying,” we asked, “Did you ever think of doing this in glass?”
“Whoa, that would be great. Yeah, all the light going through it,” Morris said.
We asked, “Do you have a favorite piece or is it always the last piece you’ve done?”
“I like all the work,” Morris said.
“Are you ever sorry that you did a piece?” we asked. Morris said, “No, no. I’ve thrown pieces away, but most of it’s been fun.”
“How do you know when a piece is done?” we asked Morris. He said, “When it feels right.”
Image above: “Change,” (Oil on Canvas, 27″ square) by Michael Morris.
Michael Morris is originally from Jersey City, NJ and now lives in Bethel, CT. He is a painter, sculptor and graphic designer. A graduate of Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education and Yale University with a Bachelors and Masters of Fine Art in sculpture.
His work has appeared in several group shows, solo exhibits at Westport Art Center, in Bethel and South Norwalk, CT, showing his large-scale Massurrealist paintings. He won awards at Silvermine Art of the Northeast and “Contemporary Visions” at the University of Bridgeport, earning a living as a graphic designer/art director for many years.
His wide range of clients include Beech Aircraft, NBC, Dos Equis, HBO, General Cigar, and PEZ. During this design period Morris kept painting and recently and importantly has returned to sculpture; working in a geometric/abstract framework that continues to explore the concepts of vibrational energy in all things.
Image above: Michael Morris (left) and Dave Gesualdi, also a local sculptor.
Sculpture Festival 2012, Peter Lawrence Gallery, Gaylordsville, CT
The Bartlett Arboretum Sculpture and Painting Show, 2012
Pop Up Art, Bethel 2012, Bethel, CT
Hospice Arts Festival, Boehringer Ingelheim, Ridgefield, CT, 2006, 2007, 2008
One Man Show, Lauretano Gallery, Bethel, CT, 2006
Kansas City Arts Festival Show, Kansas City, MO, 1960 1961, 1962
One Man Show, New Center U.S. Art Gallery, Kansas City, MO, 1963
Seven Group Shows, New Center U.S. Art Gallery, Kansas City, MO, 1961, 1962, 1963
Kansas Painters Show, Pittsburg, KS, 1958, 1959, 1960
Best In Show – Regional Hospice Arts Festival, Boehringer Ingelheim, 2006
Pulmonary Associates Prize, Art of the Northeast, Silvermine, CT, 1995
University of Bridgeport, Contemporary Visions Show, Beidgeport, CT, 1994
John Ferguson Weir Scholarship – Yale University – 1965/6
The Bethel Artspace gallery hours are: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3-6pm. Go view the exhibit and watch Michael work.
Michael’s work is also being exhibited concurrently at the Bethel Public Library.
Michael Morris’ Website: www.artistmichaelmorris.com