Becoming The Student #17: Mike Seat

photoMike, Pastel on Paper. 14 by 13 inches, 2014.

Mike Seat is a pillar of the community here in Columbia, MO. He’s deeply embedded in the art world here, and has a gentle and calming presence. I’m lucky enough to get to hang out with Mike on the Board of the Columbia Art League where we both serve. He is really a wonderful man who is generous with his time. I always feel recharged after a few minutes with him. When beginning my Becoming the Student series, I knew I’d get Mike in there. Our conversation while he sat for me was so pleasant – and he always feeds me well when I visit! If you’re in central Missouri, get to know this guy.

On What Made Him Come To Art

“As a kid growing up, my dad was a painter and a photographer. I think I picked up a lot of respect for art through him. Then in high school I made art and thought about going to Art School but that didn’t work out. After that I went out into the world, started making a living… and art seemed like just a luxury for me. I didn’t have time to do it. But it was always something that was working within me. I loved aviation and went into air traffic controlling; that was the main thing for me for a long time. In the back of my mind was always a deep respect for painters and sculptors – artists in general – and that stuck with me. After retiring and moving here to Columbia – and one reason we moved here was the art culture here –  I just threw myself into the art community here. One thing I never thought I’d learn to do was wheel throwing pots, but I got to do that right away at Access Arts. That reignited it all for me. I got to sense again that great experience of making art. So after a couple years, especially while volunteering at the Columbia Art League, I started making my own work more seriously. At the At League I got to see really fine artists’ work along side amateurs aspiring to that higher level. That inspired me.”

On The Power of Art

“Making work is always a great experience. That alone is worth it. But having the piece left over as a record is important, too. The icing on the cake is getting to talk to people about it. What moved them. Getting their feedback. And it really is about expression, capturing a moment, sharing the moment, and trying to display the significance of the moment so that when a person walks away from a piece of art they have really experienced something.”

On The Feeling He Looks For In Art

“I really rely on the past. Art is a tradition. I often think about the artists who have made art over the thousands of years of recent history and know that a lot of them are unknown to us… (In terms of specific artists) I do tie in to the Impressionists. I identify with them a lot. They were painting quickly, capturing suggestions, capturing feeling, and opening new territory. I aspire to carry on there. That’s one thing about connecting with other artists; we’re all sort of doing the same thing. We’re all somewhat aware of this other plane of experience. So it’s hard for me to pin it down in words… but for me, sometimes, a single brushstroke can feel make me like I’m so much in the zone – like hitting a tennis ball in the sweet spot – and that immediate emotional feedback you can get from yourself can be so addicting. And what a great joy it is to savor what you see, to savor shapes and colors as they come together to manifest some beauty you’re experiencing. It is, in some ways, like having a very good meal; I could eat up that paint it’s so good sometimes.”

On What Makes A Good Portrait

“When a genuine, honest moment of humanity has been shared.”

You can see Mike’s photographic work beginning at the end of September at Imago Gallery and Cultural Center. Mike will be showing with the ceramist Yukari Kashihara and the show will be on display September 30 – November 7, 2014.  reception for the show will take place on Friday, October 10 from 6-9 PM.

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2 thoughts on “Becoming The Student #17: Mike Seat

  1. Dear Matthew, It is great to see again your continuing series “Becoming the Artist”. I believe I would enjoy meeting your friend. He made a tough decision to follow the more beaten path and succeed rather than follow his heart and be soothed through self expression. What are we after all? May his later years be filled with mirth and gladness. God help us!

    Listen, not to digress but I have come up upon a bewildering conundrum through a job I have accepted. It involves an old and excellent example of what was being done just as our world was beginning to be revealed in all it’s complexity. I’m not sure why I say that other than that I, again I only guess, that this is an example of how the real workings were shown to the common man through an art form. Please observe and study at your leisure the attached picture of the, ‘Drunken Monk’ I have sent you. Notice in the close up of his foot how the little toe is bent inward. This is true on both of his feet. (the owner chose not to have the left foot repaired). Anyway the little toe on each foot is turned in. I suspect that there is a story being told through this small yet blatant statement, and I believe it is just that. A statement on the true reality of things. That we do not always see the truth by accepting things as they are. Hell, even you have suggested such! Is that not true? I am stuck at this. I want to know what the woodcarver or maybe his client wanted understood by including feet carved in this fashion. So, I am asking you. Knowing full well that you have plenty of free time to follow your fancy even when under duress. No, really > I know how busy you are but maybe you know my answer already, and if not, that you may yourself have an interest in how it is that we came to be as we are. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? That thing with the toes is not, was not, done as an accident. I think it’s more than just ‘tongue in cheek’, so to speak. Have a look if you will.

    Hear the call of the whippoorwill? Thank you Matthew. Your friend, Geo

    >

    • Geo, that’s what my great professor Barry Gealt would have called “A Perversion” – but in the good sense! I have replied to you via email with my theories – such as they are! Good art needs some perversion, methinks!

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