James Michaels has created a phenomenal series of large sepia-toned and black-and-white oil paintings. The Polk Museum of Art owns one of these, 15 Men, which Museum visitors recently voted as their favorite artwork in the permanent collection. This exhibition will bring a large number from the series together, a series that features dramatic tableaus of figures that recall Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings though they are decidedly contemporary. Monumental both in scale and impact, the fifteen paintings in this exhibition are complex combinations of expressive and controlled brushwork, historic and contemporary imagery, religious and secular symbolism, and personal and cultural references.
Michaels was born in Brooklyn and came to the Tampa Bay area in 1971. After years as a successful commercial artist, he changed direction in 1980 to become a fine artist. By 1986 he received a national fellowship from the Awards in the Visual Arts. In addition he has received the Best of Show award at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts and an Individual Artist Fellowship from the State of Florida.