I discovered today that an artist I interviewed in May 2012, Michael Justino Michaud (MiJuMi), has made his art available for sale online. Because I’d been wanting to buy something of his since the day he gave me a tour through his two-stall garage studio, it was an exciting discovery. I never shared my piece on him (on my site) back when it first published, so I thought I’d share it now for those of you interested in new artists and new art. – Kristen
Originally published with the title “Organized Chaos” in the Journal Inquirer May 28, 2012
by Kristen J. Tsetsi
ENFIELD, Conn. — Artist Michael Justino Michaud, 33, is fairly soft-spoken and quick to smile. Watching him amble around his narrow studio in paint-stained jeans, his face framed by a wild mass of dark, thick curls, it’s almost impossible to imagine him sitting in a car on a typical morning commute to a regular day-job, even if that’s what he does every morning, making the 50-minute drive to and from Rokap Inc. in Wallingford, where he’s a full-time graphic designer.
Instead, he seems a natural extension of the unfinished garage he’s transformed into a creative space, its floor dotted and streaked with rusts and reds and yellows, cardboard panels affixed to the wall and transformed into a makeshift bulletin board where he tacks ideas, Bob Marley echoing off the whitewashed walls, and “tools”— a plastic spatula, cardboard tubing, nails, and screwdrivers — stored among upward of 50 paint cans.
Most of the paint was donated by the Enfield Square Mall in April to help him with his current project, AR36T5.
Michaud, who goes by MiJuMi (the first two letters from his first, middle, and last names), resolved to create a piece of art for every day of the year after his wife, Nicole, a writer, said she was inspired by the movie “Julie & Julia” to adopt a task and write about it for a year.
Michaud says Nicole, 32, hasn’t yet decided what she wants to write about. But his yearlong project is certainly taking off, having already received attention from a few publications and thus far luring more than 20,000 hits to his website.
The pressure to create a new work of art for every day of the year would likely block some of the most prolific artists, but Michaud has what seems to be an astonishingly endless supply of ideas and energy. He’s already two weeks ahead of schedule and shooting for a month.
His website, http://www.AR36T5.com, operates dually as a virtual gallery and daily project tracker, displaying the varied styles of his numerous paintings and imaginative mixed-media creations. Warm tones on burlap, melted crayons, strings and nails, stencils, and circles. Lots of circles.
Why so many circles?
“I have no idea,” he says, and then delivers a brief explanation about how his project began: with cardboard tubes. He took them home from work after the vinyl they held was removed, and he dipped one of the ends into a can of paint. He then essentially stamped the canvas with the painted ring.
“It just kind of went off from there,” he says. “I started doing circles and got obsessed with them, I guess. I was trying to find different ways to use them, to make them look different.”
Some of those circles were on display at Enfield Square Mall in a pop-up gallery on April 28 as part of a donation drive to help keep his project going. And being in a public space didn’t stop him from creating something new — on the floor in the midst of his mall gallery, Michaud glued a row of crayons in varying shades of green and blue, with some tan and gray thrown in, to the top and bottom edges of a canvas. Using a hairdryer, he heated the wax until it dripped down, the colors bleeding into each other and creating a blend of hues that resemble a pristine ocean’s depths and shallows.
Fitting, as Michaud would live near the beach if he could. Hawaii, preferably.
“I didn’t ever really want to stay in Connecticut, but Nicole’s family is here and my family is here,” Michaud says. He quickly adds that Connecticut itself isn’t the problem, and that he loves being near both sets of family.
“It’s the cold,” he says. “I hate the cold.”
But he enjoys the house he and his wife bought in Enfield last summer, whose character and two garage stalls friends and family have remarked are a perfect fit for the creative pair. While Michaud paints in one stall — his finished pieces stacked against the walls in the other — his wife is usually upstairs in the house with their two dogs. Now and then she’ll go downstairs to see what Michaud is working on, but she doesn’t stay for too long.
“She reads a ton of books,” Michaud says. “She enjoys our dogs, loves hanging out with her nephew and nieces. She is very understanding when it comes to my need to create. I am blessed to have her in my life.”
Their dogs, Harper, a 3-year-old Cavachon, and Marley, a 1-year-old rescue Michaud believes is a pitbull/boxer mix, bark from the other side of the door at the top of the stairs that lead down to the storage stall somewhat dominated by Michaud’s representations of the shape he calls “never-ending,” as he says he hopes his artwork will be. However, by no means do the circles represent the full extent of his exploration. Many of the pieces, which he says aren’t necessarily inspired by anything in particular but are more like “experiments,” are markedly different from the others.
One quality they all have in common is their soothing lack of perfection. That is to say, Michaud, who failed a painting class in college, isn’t concerned with staying inside the lines.
“My biggest influence is Jean-Michel Basquiat,” he says. “I love the style and how he went about painting. He didn’t care if it was messy or outside of the lines. Every line he made or shape created was put there on purpose. I feel like I work the same way. It looks like an organized mess with each circle, line, or dot put down for a reason.”
Michaud’s AR36T5 project overall is an example of organized chaos. The construction — which includes tentative plans for contests and giveaways and showings — is somewhat scattered, but the goal is rock solid: to make a difference.
A Bob Marley devotee, Michaud strives to emulate Marley’s generosity. His website provides information about how to donate supplies to the AR36T5 project, and what people are donating isn’t to Michaud himself, but to an effort designed to benefit others.
Come the end of the year, Michaud hopes to have a gallery showing that incorporates the year’s work, much of which will be donated to schools nationwide that are rebuilding after natural disasters. He’ll also give $3,650 as a gift or scholarship to an aspiring art student whose means are limited.
“Bob gave away most of his earnings to help his fellow man. If I could follow in Bob’s footsteps in any way, it would be by helping others,” Michaud says. “That’s why I want to donate paintings to schools and help out a future art student. He gave his gift to the world, and I would like to do the same thing. I believe I was put here to do that.”
For more information about Michaud’s project, visit: www.AR36T5.com