Local artist Michael Young's interest in art began as a child observing his father Eugene draw and paint in the basement of their home in Lansing.

Local artist Michael Young's interest in art began as a child observing his father Eugene draw and paint in the basement of their home in Lansing.
At 17, he enrolled in a two-year Commercial Art program in Salina, Kansas. After graduation he found employment at an architectural illustration studio in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
After collecting books and taking portrait lessons, he opened a downtown studio/gallery in Leavenworth. After several years he felt the need to learn the anatomical figure, and he moved to New York City in 1978. There, he studied at The Art Students League, Salmagundi Club, and took private classes with Bill Weltman, a world-famous anatomy instructor.
It was at that time that his fine art career was set in motion.
He soon met his agent Pat Carlson and introduced his work to the national publisher and gallery chain Dyansen, painting mostly in the Art Deco style.
Hundreds of works later he slowly developed a strong desire for a break with tradition. His paintings have became experimental and rebellious, undergoing a change in concepts and techniques he calls “Prismatism."
In this Quick 5 interview, Michael talks about his work, and also that of his friend, the late artist, David Melby.

1. Michael, you are one of the rare few who has been able to sustain a career as a painter. When did you first know that painting was your passion and how were you able to devote all your work and energy to pursuing art as a career?
As a young child, I witnessed the passion my father, Eugene, had for art. He took night classes at the Art Institute and painted as much as he could in our basement. He would occasionally bring up his work and proudly place them around the living room walls. I’m very sure this had an effect on my future in art. I enjoyed art classes at Sacred Heart grade school but Lansing High didn’t offer an art program at that time. I was, however, lucky enough to attend a two-year commercial art program in Salina, Kansas, which helped in obtaining my very first art job in Kansas City as an illustrator. By the time I was 20, I was totally obsessed by art. I began collecting art books and visiting the Nelson and other art galleries and worked very hard learning. I am so thankful for the strong desire to create art. It makes it easier when it’s something you simply must do.

2. How would you describe your style and what led you to your unique visual expression?
That’s a difficult question. I normally refer to my style as stylized realism but have always crossed over into surrealism, semi-abstraction and impressionism as well. One style I developed in 2000 I coined prismatism, a kind of a double exposure or X-ray vision effect.

3. What have been some of your most memorable showings of your work and in what locations can your work be seen? After such a long, successful career in art, what goals are still unrealized, but still in your crosshairs?
I think my favorite show experience would have to be my first art expo when I signed with Dyansen Galleries, a publisher and gallery chain based in New York. The most memorable was my first Beverly Hills show where all my family attended. Young Sign Company printed special Michael Young T-shirts we wore while strolling down Rodeo Drive.
At my age, I feel I’m in the final stage of my development. My intention is to focus on fewer, larger and more interesting ideas. I would like to show the new series in a large venue such as Red Dot Expo in Miami Beach next year.

4. You will be hosting an exhibit of the late artist David Melby's work. How did you get to know this painter, what was his work like and what did he contribute to the local art heritage? When and where will the exhibit be?
I was living and working in a studio/gallery on Delaware Street in downtown Leavenworth when I first met David Melby. Our work was different but we got along well.
He specialized as a landscape painter but also did abstraction and figurative work as well. As a student in New York, I saw several of David’s paintings in a show at NYU in the Village. He was a popular regional artist but did show across the U.S. as well as in foreign lands, including a one-man show in Russia. David also was a teacher working at the University of Saint Mary, Iowa State and several more. I will be having a show of David’s oil miniature’s beautifully framed and ready to hang. The show will be at The Michael Young Gallery, 13821 Donahoo Road, Kansas City, Kansas, on Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 and Oct. 4 from noon to 5 p.m.  

5. What would be your best advice for young artists who are hoping to be able to devote their lives to, and make a living from, their art?
A standard joke to a budding artist is “just don’t go pro.” I'm half kidding but becoming a professional artist isn’t the easiest road. It can be a roller-coaster ride with extreme frustrating lows but also exhilarating highs. I would tell a student to learn and practice realism. You're much more likely to acquire paying jobs, and the more you do, the better you become. The first 500 are the toughest.
Most importantly is to have fun in creating art, this is a must for the beginner, hobbyist or professional.
– Rimsie McConiga