Byron Shire has always been known as a hub for the arts, with its natural beauty, laid back lifestyle, and tradition of free-thinking.
Indeed, it has been said that you could hardly swing a cat in a local cafe without skinning a poet, a guitarist and a couple of graphic artists.
While musicians, thespians, and performers were decimated by the lockdown conditions, the painter, whose solitary toils bring warmth, colour and feeling to our lives, was in a way, in their element.
Mullumbimby artist Mike Chavez is a case in point.
He says, ‘I came to fine arts through the back door’.
‘After graduating from the QLD College of Arts, I found my way into commercial art, working in film and television as an animator.
‘I worked in Los Angeles on big productions like Space Jam, Iron Giant and more recently with the ABC for the popular local production Bluey. But I always wanted to try my hand at working without a script; to just work with concepts and ideas that pleased me’.
Mike’s work usually starts with a screen print that he embellishes with overtones in acrylic, and can take the form of a portrait or cartoon-like figures that can be playful and quite funny.
The works bring to mind Andy Warhol (one of his heroes) with perhaps a touch of Banksy thrown into the mix.
‘I call my style “Cartoon Dada” – it’s not overly intellectual. I’d like to think its fairly accessible, but I find that I deal with concepts that are important to me like identity and racism (Mike is of phillipino extraction) and also a dash of humour, hopefully something that will spark a conversation’.
Mike is holding an exhibition of his work called ‘Thrilla from Manilla’ which runs throughout October at Mike’s studio, “the Boondocks”.
It is located at the Ross Industrial Estate on the corner of Station and Mill Streets, Mullumbimby.
Opening night is Friday October 2, from 6 till 8pm.