By Brittany Ward
Aug. 8, 2018

Cycling, craft beer, coffee and art lovers, Michael Villarreal’s “Under Construction,” was the installation to see at Method Cycles & Craft House, 416 S. 11th St. For those that missed opening night of First Friday, you’re in luck! Villarreal’s work will be on display until September 2.

Hung up on the worn-out brick walls were perfectly-framed latex paintings of objects that were under construction as well as colored pencil drawings on vellum. His art style is deeply inspired by his childhood and the house that his father built, which is still being worked on to this day.

“Rooms have changed, rooms have been added, the interior never stays the same. It is a living, breathing entity,” said Villarreal.

The day his kindergarten teacher told his father how good Villarreal’s drawings were for his young age was the first time he became aware that he may become an artist later in life. With very supportive parents of his artistic habits, that future didn’t seem unlikely. Despite not having the funds to send Villarreal to private art classes, his parents supplied him with stacks of computer paper and no.2 pencils from their job at U-Haul. There was never a moment where he didn’t have paper to draw on.

“There is so many things and people that inspire me. Hard to make a list because it can go on and on. I do look at a lot of art,” said Villarreal. “I believe as an artist it is important to look at as much art as possible.”

Though Villarreal has a background in painting, he has been working a lot with sculptures. Currently, the primary material for the sculptures is insulation foam but he is open to any medium to achieve the results he’s looking for. In addition to the foam work, fiberglass is another material that Villarreal is learning to work with. His fascination with sculptures began in grad school when he reminisced about his childhood and his father constant building, resulting in the sculptures resembling household objects.

Villarreal describes his art style, “The work I make can be described as quirky shapes that look like plastic toys. They have a playfulness to them that make them approachable.”

For those who aren’t new to the First Friday scene, Villarreal’s work may look familiar. Last year at Tugboat Gallery, he was included in an installation called “Shift” and he co-curated a show called “Conduit,” also at Tugboat Gallery. His work has also been published online on the Huffington Post and Issue No. 126 of New American Paintings. Recently, at DATELINE in Denver, Co., his work was on display for a group exhibition, “Real Shapes.”

This upcoming January at Doane University, Villarreal is scheduled to have a solo show. Then in the Spring he is scheduled to have a show at The Times Club in Iowa City. Starting this fall he will be the visiting Gallery Manager at Doane University.

You can find more of Villarreal’s art on his website or Instagram.

Brittany Ward is an editorial intern with KZUM.