Mike Wilk was kicked out of his high school jazz band when, instead of playing his assigned solo at a concert, he opted for the Super Mario Bros. theme song. The director suggested he find a different outlet for his energies, and he took up drawing.
Now he's an art major, focusing on painting, at Colorado State University-Pueblo. And given his history, it's probably not surprising that he describes his style as pop surrealism; one painting, for instance, includes action hero Ironman.
Wilk is just one of three up-and-coming artists featured in the New Year, New Art show at Wireworks Coffeehouse in Pueblo. Wireworks manager Katrina Aguilar, who happened upon Wilk, Chloe Patton and Gunnar Serrato through word-of-mouth, describes the show as a collection of contemporary and urban art spanning mediums from computer graphics and mirrors to acrylics and natural paper collage.
As it happens, Wilk is the only one of the trio to have previously shown his work. Patton is a self-trained artist whose work has long taken a backseat in a life spent raising children and working.
"My grandma gave me a box of crayons when I was about 3 years old, and that was the beginning of it," says the 70-year-old, whose current interests combine collage and aboriginal influences, with particular emphasis on aboriginal-inspired dots. "It's only the last two or three years that I've been very serious about it."
Her works for the show primarily consist of acrylic painting and collage, with a few pieces on Yupo, a non-porous paper that allows paint to slide across its surface before drying in what Patton describes as a kind of "happy accident."
Of the bunch, the most contemporary in technique is Pueblo native Serrato, who often works with a stylized sort of painting and portraiture that focuses on shape and shadow. His creations are largely completed in acrylics, and he has a penchant for painting musicians, with studies of Johnny Cash and Mike Ness of the punk rock band Social Distortion in his portfolio.
The show's opening itself will include some music, as Inaiah Lujan of regional band The Haunted Windchimes will perform at the vegetarian coffeehouse. But with or without musical accompaniment, Patton promises the artistic amalgamation will be a "really good fit," with every artist getting a corner of the coffeehouse to display his or her unique talents.