Michael McConnell was born in Michigan, where he used to watch squirrels from the front window. He studied art at the Columbus College of Art & Design with an emphasis in lithography and painting. After graduating from CCAD, he packed up a U-Haul and drove across the country to the Bay Area, where he now lives in San Francisco. In the past 17 years, he hasn’t found a good reason to leave.

Michael was represented by Braunstein/Quay Gallery in San Francisco for 10 years. Since they’re closure, he has enjoyed showing with Gauntlet Gallery in San Francisco, Marion and Rose’s Workshop in Oakland, and Abrams Claghorn Gallery in Albany. If not in his studio, you can find Michael drinking coffee at his coffee and video shop (Faye’s) in the Mission District, dancing, or playing lightsabers with his family.

Making art is how Michael makes sense of the world and his forgotten childhood. Observing his own anxieties and awkwardness, he creates visual narratives that examine loneliness, responsibility, and choice. In his work, the innocence and vulnerability of children and animals are constrained. The stories unfold in the space between memory and nostalgia and focus on the tension between youth and maturity. Listen above or on iTunes or Spotify.

Show notes

In this episode, we talk about:

  • how he came to run Faye’s
  • lessons learned in the first couple of years of ownership
  • what he does for his self-care
  • the ways in which SF is changing
  • infrastructure challenges such as too many rideshare drivers
  • what keeps him there
  • how he came to be an artist
  • how different what he puts into his work (the emotions, stories, concepts) is from what people perceive it to mean or convey
  • how much of his own childhood vs. his experience as a parent he puts into his work
  • making work that represents the happy things when he has always been inspired by the sad
  • the role of perceived value in art
  • learning that he doesn’t have to do everything himself

Resources mentioned: 

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