Arts & Community
7:00 am
Thu August 1, 2013

A Profile Of Springfield Painter & Muralist, Michael Mayosky

Mayosky in his home in Springfield
Credit Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Michael Mayosky's art is hard to miss if you live in Springfield. If you've ever been to Knight's Action Park - you've seen his aquatic landscapes stretching over the buildings. On Macarthur Boulevard, his more "trippy" murals adorn head-shop Penny Lane. And now, for his 109th Abraham Lincoln painting, he's going larger than life - much larger. But Mayosky's relative fame as a local professional artist has brought its challenges…

Earlier this year- Mayosky began his mural featuring a young Lincoln in a grove of trees on the side of the Alamo restaurant and bar, facing Jefferson Street. The event a few months ago coincided with the Old State Capitol art fair, music and vendors filled the streets:

MAYOSKY: “I guess the appeal of murals is that they're big ... it's a challenge … murals are never really boring for me.”

Bored is a state of being in which you're unlikely to ever find Mayosky. The painter seems to constantly juggle several projects, all while scheming up new ones, including documentary movies, parties and events, and cross-country adventures. Mayosky says his interest in art began as a young teen living in Kansas City, Missouri, his hometown - where he enjoyed doing graffiti. These days he's most known for the murals, and his spinning canvas, which he uses to paint during festivals and concerts. The smaller, more impromptu pieces are sometimes sold for charities, like the March of Dimes.

Ann Frescura is the Promotion & Events Director for Downtown Springfield Incorporated - the organization in charge of the Artification project - which aims to bring more murals like this one to downtown Springfield. Frescura has worked with Mayosky for over a decade:

FRESCURA: "Michael is a character, he's very intelligent. He is one of the most naturally talented people; he doesn't have formal training as an artist. He also does everything free-hand."

His talent has taken him all over the country, notably to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he's participated in the international art contest called “Art Prize.” He drew attention from local media for living in a tent last year while completing a contest entry consisting of dozens of paintings he did on his spinning canvas. Here's a piece about him on the city's WOOD TV station…

REPORTER: “Hours before the Art Prize crowd arrives, artist Michael Mayosky begins his day.”

MAYOSKY: “The whole reason I'm getting into this contest is so I can get my wisdom teeth pulled…"

REPORTER: “It would seem a noble enough cause for the very model of the starving artist, but if Mayosky would just tell you the truth - it's not the real reason he's here. Turns out Mayosky just enjoys making people happy…”

Mayosky says he resents being portrayed as a starving artist…

MAYOSKY: “I am getting older, I'm now 40, I am. And I am curious as to live, somewhat more of a normal life, 'cus in my opinion I've paid my dues and slept on enough floors and attics and garages and, you name it - I've slept in it while painting work ... I think I've graduated from the school hard-knocks now… ”

Back at his current home in Springfield, the artist -- who's also the father of a 16-year-old daughter -- is surrounded by paint cans, in-progress art, and shelves holding an assortment of trinkets, including an Elmo, a globe, and a robot-dog. His small fridge contains mostly milk, chocolate syrup, and grape jelly. The place is owned by his friend, they call it the “tool-box", kind of a catch-all property for the tools they use on their projects. He says he's hoping to settle a deal on a more permanent residence soon.

Here in town, Mayosky's also organized local artists over the past several years. For example his efforts resulted in the Third Thursday art shows, though he no longer has a role in the monthly events. While Mayosky has his fans in Springfield - there are those in the art community with whom he says he's not on friendly terms.

MAYOSKY: “Usually, what I've found in any sort of controversy, it has to do with, I suppose ... I don't want to go with jealousy, it just seems like such a trite thing to say, but yeah, I think that's it. I think it's just a bunch of jealousy … and sometimes things get out of hand because of politics and feelings - humans are complicated creatures.”

Adding to the controversy that sometimes surrounds him - Mayosky was arrested less than a week ago. He says he was trying to finish his mural in the early morning hours when a bartender at the Alamo called the police on him, claiming he wasn't supposed to be working during that time. Mayosky was arrested for alleged disorderly conduct, he got out on $100 bail.

Drama aside, Mayosky says he's creating a name for himself - and perhaps not merely as the starving, temperamental artist:

MAYOSKY: “Even something small can do something big, and leave behind something more powerful, that outshines this generation. I guess the legacy is just to be an influence to who's coming next. And we don't know who's coming next, 'cus it hasn't happened yet…”

Though, one thing seems certain. The painter has solidified into a local character whose reputation, like his art, is sometimes larger than life.