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The Masterpiece Theater of Michael Israel: A Controlled Chaos of Music and Paint

The Masterpiece Theater of Michael Israel: A Controlled Chaos of Music and Paint

 

By Jonathon King

michael israel city and shore magazine

michael israel city and shore magazine

Music — chosen as inspiration, and turned up perhaps a few decibels too loud, meant to envelop you, raise your pulse a few beats, focus your attention.

Paint — vivid in color, and flinging through the air in strings and fat beads from the artist’s brushes before being applied more creatively and circumspectly than the audience might ever realize, to a huge canvas.

Dance — the deft steps and lunges of a trained athlete, the frozen poses of contemplation, and then the attack of a sometimes spinning canvas, seemingly stopped at a random point, but always at a moment of planned choreography.

And Showmanship – oh yes, always the showmanship, of the handsome, tuxedo-clad entertainer, his long dark hair and formal attire soon spattered in the paint that creates the image and only adding to the image of instant creativity he weaves like some live magician before your very eyes.

A performance by artist Michael Israel is, in his words, a few minutes of “controlled chaos.”

The results of that chaos may be a stunning portrait of John Lennon or Mahatma Gandhi, a heroic scene of a firefighter’s rescue of a child or a soldier’s salute, a heart-felt likeness of a 5-year-old girl who succumbed to pediatric brain cancer or the rendering of an endangered loggerhead turtle.

“My work is like an instant recognition,” Israel has said. “You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to analyze it. It goes in through your eyes, it grabs hold of your heart and makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

“You know what it’s all about instantly because it’s about what’s inside you, I just bring it out,” he says. “It’s like a mirror.”

Internationally known and with individual paintings that have sold to private collections for as much as $250,000 Israel is better known as a performance artist who actually creates art during his performance.

“He really puts it all together, the music and the lights on stage and it really energizes the audience. When he starts flinging the paint around you go, ‘Whoa, this is different,”’ says Lisa Parks, a contracting executive who saw Israel perform for a benefit for HomeSafe, an organization that protects victims of child abuse and domestic violence. “You’re not really sure what he’s up to with the spinning canvas and all, but then boom, this wonderful painting is suddenly there.”

The music that fills whatever venue Israel performs in is selected by him to add to the overall effect; Ronan, a ballad created by Taylor Swift about a child with cancer, provides the backdrop for his paintings at cancer center appearances. The voice of Enrique Iglesias fills the room when he does his signature Hero performance.

“I’m really trying to create an atmosphere, something that touches the audience,” Israel says. “When everything comes together I’m even getting an adrenaline rush.”

When asked how much rehearsal time he spends before each performance, Israel, who was raised in Hollywood and is now living in Boca Raton, says, “Actually, I’ve been rehearsing for about thirty-five years.”

“I still recall those days when I was six or seven and for whatever reason, I’d be drawing something on the walls of my childhood home. Of course, back then my mother would critique my work … by spanking me.”

Living in a houseboat on the Intracoastal Waterway behind The Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood at the time, Israel says his energy and penchant for constantly creating didn’t make him much of a conventional student.

“I was always in trouble in grade school for not paying attention and for doodling on any blank surface I could find, making my own brand of artwork and designs.”

By his teens, the young, and yes, sometimes starving artist, took an unusual path to hone what would become his signature talent.

“I was working the art shows and weekend sidewalk art fairs making small paintings of anything people brought me whether it was their own live portrait, a photograph of a family member, their pet, a photograph of their home. Pretty much anything,” Israel says.

“You know, you’ve been there with dozens of tents set up on the sidewalks and artists selling all kinds of styles and forms of their artwork. Well, when you’re doing work like that, you can’t make any money unless you do a lot of it. Pretty soon I was doing a sort of speed painting, working on four or five small pieces at a time, jumping from canvas to canvas on my street setup.

“I’d do some five hundred paintings in a weekend. I remember times when I had bandages on my fingers and had a bucket of ice water nearby to soak the pain out of my hands.”

But he also noticed that when he was in the throes of creating multiple pieces of art at the same time, crowds would gather around to watch, not just to see the finished product, but to witness the performance itself.

“I thought, ‘Hey, if I made a buck for all the people who were watching and never sat down to have a painting done, maybe I wouldn’t have to do five hundred. Maybe I could cut it down to two or three hundred.’”

“I also realized I was feeding off the crowd, their energy, their ooohs and ahhs, and their delight in seeing what I was creating in five-minute chunks of time. It was infectious.”

And it was the beginning of an artistic act he has now taken to Presidential Inaugural balls in Washington, D.C., onto the deck of the USS Midway aircraft carrier in San Diego, at the Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo, the Olympic Medals stage in Salt Lake City, and to museums and concert stages in dozens of U.S. states, Africa and Canada.

“Where and when it happened, I can’t tell you,” Israel says of the gift and vision and affinity for the creative insight he carries with him.

He says it may have started to come together in grade school when he also started studying martial arts, a dedication for which he has continued for the past 40 years. He would eventually earn a black belt in karate and went to the USKA Grand National Championships at age 17. The athleticism is obvious during his performances both in his graceful movements around the huge and often spinning canvas but also in the concentration he’s able to hold while the music swells and audiences begin to react.

“The karate training really taught me how to focus,” he says. “And it also gave me the ability to meditate and see things with a clear mind.

“While I’m doing the painting and spinning the canvas, I see the image as if I’m seeing it from up above like I’m floating and seeing it from all angles. There are times when I’m nearly finished but I can tell from their reaction that the audience still hasn’t gotten it and I’m thinking, ‘Come on, you gotta be seeing this, and then come the oohs and the ahhs when I finally spin it.”

Though the once doodling child would eventually become an advanced-placement student and graduate of Cooper City High School, even Israel can’t say where the art inspiration came from.

Israel’s father owned and ran amusement rides and was no more of an influence on his son’s love of things artistic than his boat captain mother who cuffed him for drawing on the walls. As a teenager, when Israel had become deeply ensconced in the world of weekend art fairs and street-side presentations to make a living, “my father pretty much told me to get a real job.”

The rift lasted for several years until 2002 when Israel invited his father to an undisclosed event in Washington, D.C. Israel put his father up in a downtown hotel and met him at the venue where he would be performing. As his father stood somewhat perplexed at the black-tie affair, he pointed out to Michael that several dark-suited men in the crowd appeared to be wearing electronic earpieces and seemed highly alert.

“That’s the Secret Service, Dad. I’m the opening act,” he said, handing his father his tickets to G.W. Bush’s 2002 Presidential dinner. “Art just baffled him and sometimes it still baffles me,” Israel says today. “But I guess I’d gotten a real job.”

Obviously, Israel is not the stereotypical artist who spends hours in a grotto, sitting before a canvas painstakingly creating in the conventional mode. And neither is the final painting the sole motivation behind his work.

“The gift of being a human being is art, whether it’s cooking, painting, or music. It’s a combination of knowledge, intellect, and emotion,” Israel says. “I think the greatest masterpieces, whether it’s food or art or science, are the ones that move humanity forward, that empower people. If it’s something that enriches a life, if it feeds the hungry, gives someone a home, then that’s great art whether it’s architecture, or dance or painting.”

Holding that definition in his heart, Israel’s art, and his participation in fundraising for a multitude of causes, has become a mainstay of his career. His aircraft carrier performance raised money for Habitat for Humanity and the Special Ops Warrior Foundation, a benefit in New Orleans was a fundraiser for the Friends of the Fisherman after the Gulf oil-spill disaster, and he created a painting of Payton Wright during his performance to benefit the foundation in Payton’s name that funds research for pediatric brain cancer.

Israel can list more than a hundred charities and foundations — from the Make-a-Wish Foundation to The Shriner’s Hospital, the United Way to Habitat for Humanity, Child Abuse Prevention Center to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation — and myriad other causes that he has been asked to perform for with the hope that his message will inspire others.

He has created his painting of a fireman rescuing a child — his Hero performance — to raise funds for a multitude of charitable agencies across the country.

“What moves me is probably the same thing that moves everybody else. You get that stirring in your stomach; I want to do something. I can’t run out and clean the ocean up, I wish I could, but I don’t have that power. But I can certainly use my talent to bring attention to it, to communicate a message, to empower people, to motivate them, or to give them some hope and that’s a great thing.”

Sarasota Visual Art

Charity Programs

Speed Painter Michael Israel Supports St. Vincent’s Healthcare Foundation

Speed Painter Michael Israel Supports St. Vincent’s Healthcare Foundation

$105,000 ART AUCTION!

Michael WOWED and AMAZED a crowd of 1000 healthcare professionals and supporters during his performance at the beautiful Omni Hotel for St. Vincent’s Healthcare Foundation.

Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation is a not-for-profit, philanthropic organization established in 1982 that is committed to enhancing the current and future healthcare needs of Jacksonville and the surrounding area.

Since its inception, the Foundation has provided more than $1 million in annual financial assistance to support the Mission of Ascension St. Vincent’s. Serving as a liaison between Ascension St. Vincent’s and our family of generous donors, the Foundation is rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus as a healer and devoted to putting our commitment to philanthropy into action. The Foundation supports Ascension St. Vincent’s: Community Outreach Ministries, capital building, and equipment needs.

The St. Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation is the entity that financially supports the mission of Jacksonville’s province of Daughters of Charity. The foundation and network, established in 1982, is dedicated to improving the present and future healthcare needs of the Jacksonville area, and has provided more than $1 million in support every year since its creation.[3]

The foundation stages fund-raising events throughout the year, including the Red Rose Ball, begun in 1982 and Jacksonville’s oldest charity ball. The 2008 event was attended by John Travolta and Kelly Preston, who helped collect over $1 million in donations.[4]

John Ash was the celebrity chef at the 10th annual Delicious Destinations event in 2011. The three-day event attracts over a dozen executive chefs from notable restaurants and resorts around the country to prepare their favorite dishes for donors at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.[5][6]

St. Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation is also a charity recipient of proceeds from The Players Championship, and conducts a two-day charity golf tournament early in the week known as The Tradition.[7]

#speedpainting #michaelisrael #speedpainter

Michael Israel’s Speedpainting at Armory Art Center

Michael Israel’s Speedpainting at Armory Art Center

A Brief History of the Armory

When the Norton Museum closed its art school in 1986, a dedicated group of artists, art teachers, and community activists formed the Armory Art Center to ensure the continuation of practical art instruction in Palm Beach County. In seeking a new home for the art school, they looked to the neglected Armory building constructed in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in an Art Deco style and designed by William Manley King. The building was a National Guard Armory from 1939 to 1982. By the late 1980s, after a period of multiple community uses, including high school dances, the building was scheduled for demolition when the art activists and the Palm Beach County Cultural Council came together to convince the City of West Palm Beach to spare the building from demolition and allow it to be transformed into an art center.

The Armory Art Center was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization on November 21, 1986, after the art group renovated the abandoned Art Deco structure into a vibrant space for art classes and art exhibitions. The center opened its doors to the public in July 1987 as a result of generous contributions from its many supporters, most notably Robert and Mary Montgomery and the Historic Preservation and Cultural Facilities Grants of the State of Florida. In 1992 the Armory was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Over the past three decades, the Armory has taught art classes to thousands of emerging artists of all ages and cultures, exhibited art in hundreds of shows, given workshops taught by national and international visiting master artists, provided summer art camp for thousands of young people, and since the year 2000 has yearly given new artists-in-residence from around the United States and abroad the opportunity to hone their craft while teaching classes. The Armory looks to a long future of enhancing artistic life in the Palm Beaches.

Learn more about the history of the Armory

 

PAST | Armory Art Center #michaelisrael #speedpainting #speedpainter

TV interview for Cinco De Michael for United Way of Natrona County

TV interview for Cinco De Michael for United Way of Natrona County

 
Wherever I’m doing a benefit show, I make myself available to do media interviews to help promote the charity and the event.
 
This was a great interview with Keenan Sanders on Goodmorning Wyoming KTWO for United Way of Natrona County’s Cinco De Michael at the fairgrounds Industrial building. It SOLD OUT and was a super fun night and a successful fundraiser.
 
I was pretty self-conscious when they wanted to call the event Cinco De “Michael.” But, I am proud that my artwork had raised over a quarter million dollars at two previous events, and helped them gain new sponsors.
 
 

Flying to performances is no longer fun; here’s why​

Flying to performances is no longer fun; here’s why​

The struggle is real

Long waits, impersonal staff, delays, cancellations, video screens that are not maintained, and more make flying commercial exhausting and frequently frustrating. I arrive tired and annoyed, which is not the best state of being to give the best performance. It has been my experience that many airports, like Miami International Airport in Florida, have a lot of art. It’s weird but cool when you look at them in the airport as if you’re at a gallery or museum. I’ve often thought it might be interesting to schedule popup speed painting performances at the airports.

What can anyone do?

Getting back to making travel more enjoyable, I download movies on an iPad (in case the airplane’s video isn’t working) and bring snacks —it helps… even better, I enjoy purchasing a hot tasty meal at the airport terminal and bringing it on the plane. Traveling is a little more enjoyable with these two simple changes in my routine. I also bring a sketch pad or iPad to design new works and review the images I will perform! Even if you are not a professional artist, bringing a sketch pad or iPad with a drawing or painting app can make time pass more enjoyable.

My first overseas gig was in Monte Carlo. I’ll never forget the feeling of flying in an actual First Class —First Class domestically isn’t First Class it’s more like economy plus, and it is lame! You get to board first, and the seat is 2-inches bigger than the economy. Oh, and free drinks. It was excellent flying overseas and being asked what type of hors d’oeuvres and wine I wanted in a seat that fully reclined so I could sleep on the trip… they even gave me slippers and a bathrobe. If only they would make domestic flights the same. Nowadays, all you see are people wearing headsets and watching movies. In my opinion, the only good thing about flight these days are… Nope, I got nuthing! I like walking through the airport and looking at the artwork… they always have artwork. The last display I saw was of school kids’ works, and they were spectacular.

I plan and pack things for work, entertainment, and snacks. I use Packr app and TripIt on my iPhone to keep organized.

Once on the way home from an event, I had a connecting flight in Chicago. The flight was canceled… Ok, it wasn’t canceled, I was on time, or at least I thought I was! It turns out you are supposed to be there 15-minutes before take off…LOL. I learned my lesson and had to get a hotel to stay overnight and fly out the next morning. Lucky for me, I met a new friend, and she took me out to visit the honkytonks in downtown Chicago. It was fun and exciting, but after a few hours, I was getting tired and went back to the hotel… my new friend came with me, and that’s another story.

Travel is MESSY.