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"I explore the evolution of gender norms, power dynamics, and representation within Western visual and literary culture and what this implies for the negotiation between aesthetic pleasure, justice, and our culturally specific discourse on beauty."

MICHAEL TOLE - Artists - FERRARA SHOWMAN GALLERY

Biography

M I C H A E L  T O L E   | | |   biography

[lives & works – Tempe, AZ ::: b. 1979, Dallas, TX]

 

MICHAEL TOLE is a figurative painter currently living in Tempe, Arizona with his wife and two daughters.  Born in 1979 in Dallas, Texas, he graduated from UT Austin with a BFA in painting in 2000.  A year later, he became the youngest artist ever represented by Dallas’ Conduit Gallery where he showed for 15 years.  For the first half of his career, he created photo-based paintings of retail interiors that explored issues of class and the relationship of painting and photography.  After relocating to Tempe, his work experienced a significant shift to fantastical figurative inventions based on pop culture imagery he has encountered via his two daughters’ taste in music videos, as well as his new proximity to the twin capitals of America’s fantasy industrial complex - Hollywood and Las Vegas.  The new work attempts to contextualize their brand of Disney-esque hedonism within a broader historical view of Western visual culture. Tole has been exhibited nation-wide, including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and New Orleans.  He has won several grants, including the $50,000 Hunting Art Prize, and the Kimbrough Grant.  His work has been reviewed in Art Forum International, San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, and Hi-Fructose.  

Artist Statement

In my current work, The Revisionist Histories, I am writing letters to art history, literature, and mythology in an attempt to reflect the social changes that have reshaped our society over the past century.  As part of this agenda, I explore the evolution of gender norms, power dynamics, and representation within Western visual and literary culture and what this implies for the negotiation between aesthetic pleasure, justice, and our culturally specific discourse on beauty. 

 

The seed for The Revisionist Histories was sewn when I caught a glimpse of my preteen daughters watching music videos on their iPad as I chopped veggies for dinner.  Out of the corner of my eye I caught glimpses of music videos featuring Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, and Doja Cat gyrating across the tiny screen.  A better parent might have snatched the iPad away, but I was overcome with hallucinatory visions of this pop diva pantheon dancing through the painted ceilings of Versailles and countless Bavarian Chapels.  Watching these videos, I observed that they employed an aesthetic that rested comfortably within Baroque and Rococo parameters, exhibiting chiaroscuro, ostentatious displays of wealth, over-the-top emotionalism, fantasy, self-aggrandizement, pastel color schemes, gender fluidity (a trait more Rococo than Baroque), and heaping piles of conventionally attractive young women in provocative poses. The new themes of female agency, diversity, and inclusivity were unquestionably positive additions to Western visual culture, yet some of the similarities between Katy Perry and Fragonard left me feeling conflicted about our culture.  After all, it was only a generation ago that many critics called out the Rococo as the exemplar of frivolous and exploitative decadence.  So what does it mean that its aesthetic conventions are now ubiquitous in media, especially media created by women?  Since that initial revelation, my research has expanded to include the broader fantasy industrial complex, from Hollywood and Las Vegas, to advertising and social media.  Through their conflation of art history, mythology, literature, and pop culture, these paintings attempt to sus out the implications of the observable ascendancy of various art historical conventions currently being used.

 

We may not normally consider the genre of teen pop music videos and TikTok posts to be fodder for philosophical reflection, but the fantasies they create reveal truths about us, and those truths deserve our conscious consideration.  To explore this, I set out on a mission to master Baroque and Rococo pictorial rhetoric, believing it to be the best vehicle to explore the continuity and disjuncture between art history and 21st century Western visual culture.  I intend to create paintings that can hang side by side with old master works in a museum that, viewed at a glance, do not stand out from their neighbors, but upon further inspection begin to reveal to the viewer those aspects of culture that have evolved, and those that have remained the same over centuries, inviting comparison, analysis, introspection, and perhaps a chuckle.

MICHAEL TOLE - Artists - FERRARA SHOWMAN GALLERY

Curriculum Vitae

EDUCATION

2011 MFA, Painting and Drawing, University of North Texas, Denton, TX

2000 BFA, Studio Art, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX
 

GRANTS/AWARDS

2021 Grand Prize:  NO DEAD ARTISTS International Juried Exhibition; Jonathan Ferrara Gallery; New Orleans, CA

2021 $500 Grant;  California Open Juried Exhibition; TAG Gallery; Los Angeles, CA

2022 London International Creative Competition; Shortlist; London, UK

2010 London International Creative Competition; Shortlist; London, UK

2008 London International Creative Competition; Shortlist; London, UK

2007 Hunting Art Prize, $50,000 Cash Award, Hunting Ltd. Houston, TX

2006 Kimbrough Grant, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX

SOLO EXHIBITIONS:

2022 Revisionist Histories; Jonathan Ferrara Gallery; New Orleans, LA

2013 It Was the Body Which Despaired of the Body; Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX

2011 Blessed With all the Thunder in the World; Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX

2010-2011 Struck by Lightning More Than Once, She Didn't Yield; Galveston Arts Center, Galveston, TX

2009 The Poniard Twists…My Mutiny; Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX

2009 What World Behind Those Ruby Eyes; Caine Schulte Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2007 Some Queer Noisy Pendulum; Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX

2004 I Think I Prayed For You To Come, But Wasn’t Prepared For The Reality; Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX

2002 Conduit Gallery Project Room, Dallas, TX


GROUP SHOWS

2022; Art Miami Art Fair, Miami, FL

2022 Folly; Figure Ground Gallery; Seattle, WA

2022 Art Market San Francisco Art Fair ; Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Booth A01; San Francisco, CA

2021 NO DEAD ARTISTS International Juried Exhibition; First Prize; Jonathan Ferrara Gallery; New Orleans, CA

2021 California Open Juried Exhibition; TAG Gallery; Second Prize; Los Angeles, CA

2021 Not Another Art Fair, Shockboxx Gallery, Hermosa Beach, CA

2021 Madre, Shockboxx Gallery, Hermosa Beach, CA

2017 Benedictine University Faculty Show, Lisle, IL

2016 Benedictine University Faculty Show, Lisle, IL

2015 Schism, Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, OH  

2014 Benedictine University System Faculty Show, Lisle, IL

2012 University of North Texas Faculty Show, Denton, TX

2012 The Medium is the Message, UT Arlington Gallery, Arlington, TX

2011 Dallas Art Fair, Dallas, TX

2010 Next Chicago, Chicago, IL

2010 Inaugural Group Show, Caine Schulte, CA

2009 Dallas Art Fair, Dallas, TX

2008 The Art of Describing, Gallery 10G, NYC

2008 Aqua Wynnwood, Miami, FL

2007 Red Dot, Miami, FL

2002 Stephen F Austin State University, Nacodoches, TX

2001 500 X Gallery, Dallas, TX

 

PRESS/PUBLICATIONS

Vices Catalog, Arc Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2021

Correra, Caitlyn, Michael Tole, I Like Your Work Podcast, August 18, 2021

Smith, Andy, Michael Tole Re-Imagines Mythology in Paintings, hifructose.com, January 16, 2018

Granberry, Michael, Art Notes, page 4E, Sunday, March 27, 2011

Artists and Galleries, Galveston Monthly, January 2011

Wiley, Rachel, Galveston Arts Center in Exile 2, page 19, November 2010

London International Creative Competition Annual Catalogue, January 2010

Carter, Steve. Unrealistically Speaking, Dallas Modern Luxury, page 56, November 2009

Baker, Kenneth. Photo-realism at Caine Schulte, San Francisco Chronicle, page E2, January 2009

London International Creative Competition Annual Catalogue, January 2008

Odom, Michael. Michael Tole at Conduit Gallery, ARTFORUM, page 476, September 2007

Daniel, Michael. Guide Live, Dallas Morning News, Guide page 20, May 25, 2007

Gaile, Robinson. The Creative Life, Fort Worth Star Telegram, May 13, 2007

Michael, Granberry. Irving painter wins $50,000 prize, Guide Live, Dallas Morning News, page 2, May 2, 2007

Tellez, Leslie. Five to Watch: Artists on the Verge, Dallas Morning News, May 30, 2007

Anspon, Catherine. Good Will Hunting, Paper City Magazine, page 6, July 2007

Mitchell, Charles Dee. Michael Tole at Conduit Gallery, Dallas Morning News, June 2007

Patricia, Johnson. Irving artist wins prestigious award, Houston Chronicle, April 30, 2007

Terranova, Charissa. Paintings by Michael Tole, Dallas Observer, September 30, 2004

Painting the Town, D Magazine, page 30, September 2002

 

SELECTED COLLECTIONS


21C Museums, Louisville, KY

CCH Pounder, New Orleans, LA

Keith Fox + Tom Keyes, New York, NY

Thomas + Dathel Coleman, New Orleans, LA

Dallas Country Club, Highland Park, TX

Ted Pillsbury, Dallas, TX

Stanley Light, Dallas, TX

Sam and Catherine Basharkhah, Dallas, TX

John and Muffin Lemak, Dallas, TX

Carter Tolleson, Dallas, Tx

John Reoch, Dallas, TX

Ted Kincaid and Steve Atkinson, Dallas, TX

Cord Martin and Thom Armistead, West Columbia, TX

Jeff Estes, Dallas, TX

Helen and Charles Nixon, Dallas, TX

Mark and Barbara Ashworth, Dallas, TX

 

GUEST LECTURE EVENTS

2015 Guest Lecturer, Mesa Art League, Mesa, AZ

2011  Guest Lecturer, AP Strategies, Dallas, TX

2009  Guest Lecturer, Dallas Arts Magnet, Dallas, TX

2008  Guest Lecturer, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX

2007  Guest Lecturer, Kimball Museum of Art, Fort Worth, Texas

2007  Guest Lecturer, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas