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I began my artistic career doing pen and ink renderings of historical architecture. I began painting in 1980, first in gouache, then in acrylics. Artists whose work I admire and draw inspiration from include Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler, Richard Estes and Vermeer. I am most interested in depicting what Alan Watts called the mystery of the ordinary; the workaday world we live in without seeing until we are forced to focus upon it, as in a painting.

Nearly all my paintings are based on photographs I have taken, primarily of Southern California scenes, over the years. Though it was never my intention to depict nostalgic scenes, many of the images I have painted have disappeared or been radically altered in the ever-changing landscape that is Southern California. Thus nostalgia is thrust upon the works. But what I am really after is bearing witness, and making people stop what they're doing and pay attention, to something they may have never seen before, but that makes them feel “I know this.”

I am currently working on a series of house paintings. These simple, ordinary, unnoticed places have hidden interior lives, though they do not reveal them to us. The houses are from a variety of locations in the United States and Mexico. They are the place you grew up in, a place of nurture, experience, trial, memory and forgetting. They are all a common size, to symbolize our shared experience of being human.

Phyllis Lutjeans, Museum Educator and former curator, has said of my work: “Although Michael Ward may be called a neo-realist painter his work can ultimately be described as abstract realism. The picture image is photographically realistic, but within the context of the painting his compositions are complex and almost abstract. Deciphering the work section by section one sees how a multitude of individual complete compositions are put together to form the entire work. For me the viewer is confronted by a realistic image that puzzles us and clearly tells the story simultaneously.” Or as a young girl viewing my work at the Laguna Festival of Arts remarked, “You make the ordinary look beautiful.”

As a painter, I am self-taught.

Solo Shows

Ordinary Beauty, Center Gallery, Anaheim, CA, October-December 2016
Retrospective Exhibition, CAP Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA, December 2014-February 2015
The Mystery of the Ordinary, Casa Romantica Cultural Center, San Clemente, CA, January-February, 2014
This is not a Photograph, Studio Gallery, Irvine, CA, January 2013
Orange County Airport Community Focus Space 2008-2009
Walkabout, Gallery 825, Los Angeles, 2008 

Selected Group Shows

CAP Invitational, Laguna Beach, CA, July-August 2017
Laguna Beach Festival of Arts, Laguna Beach, CA, July-August 2013-2018
California: Weird, Wonderful + Wild. Group invitational show 2017
San Francisco to San Diego: California Urban Landscapes, California Art Club, Altadena, CA
Art Kudos International Competition 2016, Third Place
Signs Plus, Palette Gallery, Asbury Park NJ
2016 Minna Gallery, San Francisco, CA, June-July, 2014
Group Show, Chemers Gallery, Tustin, CA, April 26-May 10, 2014
First place, Summer: an art exhibit, 2nd City Council Art Gallery, Charles Phoenix, juror, 2011
Summer Salon, Tirage Art Gallery, Pasadena, CA 2011
Guest Artist, The Artist Eye, Laguna Beach, CA 2011
The Neon Show, Austin Details, Austin, TX
Art Kudos International Competition 2010, finalist
2009 California Open Exhibition, Long Beach Arts, 2009 -- Sinéad Finnerty-Pyne, Curator
Venice Free Clinic Art Auction, 2009
Urban Ambience, Long Beach Arts, 2009 -- Mike Daniel, Juror
California Dreaming – Paintings of the Golden State, Tirage Art Gallery, 2009
California Visual Artists Group Show, 2nd City Council Art + Performance Space, Long Beach, CA 2009
Holiday Salon, Tirage Art Gallery, 2008
Artist Showcase, The LAB, Costa Mesa, CA 2008
Art Kudos International Competition 2007 – Peter Trippi, Fine Art Connoisseur, curator.
Artists Magazine, 24th Art Competition, Finalist (2x), Landscape -- Patricia Tobacco Forrester, juror
Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery Open Salon, 2007
Mesa Art Gallery, 2007
Art + Architecture Art Auction, West Hollywood, CA, 2007
Crackerjack Group Show, Gallery 825, Los Angeles, 2007 -- Jay Belloli, Armory Center for the Arts, curator
Venice Free Clinic Art Auction, Venice, CA, 2007
Sexy Beasts Group Show, Art Murmur Gallery, Los Angeles, 2007
TURF Group Show, Gallery 825, Los Angeles, 2007 -- Gregorio Luke, Museum of Latin American Art, curator
Los Angeles County Museum of Art Rental Gallery (ongoing)
Made in California, Brea Civic & Cultural Center, Brea, CA, 2007 -- Michelle Urton, LACMA, juror
Centered on the Center, Huntington Beach Art Museum, 2007
Open Show, Gallery 825, Los Angeles, 2006-7 -- Ann Philbin, Hammer Museum of Art, curator
Metroscapes (Group Show), Art Murmur Gallery, Los Angeles, 2006
Centered on the Center, Huntington Beach Art Museum, 2006
Made in California, Brea Civic & Cultural Center, Brea, CA, 2006 -- Michelle Deziel, Norton Simon Museum, juror
Artists Magazine, 22nd Art Competition, Finalist, Still Life -- Jane Jones, judge
Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery Open Salon, 2004
Orange County Artist Juried Exhibition, 2004
Orange County Biennial, 2001 -- Patricia Correia, juror
Made in California, City of Brea Art Museum, 1998


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