Mike Berren

Mike Berren

Mike Berren 2448 1160 The Tucson Gallery
Mike Berren
Mike Berren

Mike’s Story

Mike considers art to be a vehicle whereby an artist and viewers can share feelings and thoughts about a subject.  And viewers can reflect on memories that go well beyond the art itself.     

The importance of art in our daily life hit home for Mike during the early stages of Covid “lockdowns”. What started off as a fund raiser for the “tip jar” of a local diner (the Eclectic Café) led to a unique period of creativity for Mike (and dozens of other Tucsonans who followed and participated in his work). 

Here is how it happened.  Mike volunteered to do a painting that would consist of a few local diners.  After selecting the diners to be included, he began posting updates of the painting on various Tucson oriented Facebook pages.

Because many in the community felt as isolated as did Mike, and were looking for a creative outlet, comments and suggestions about his painting began rolling in.  The “Neighborhood Diners” painting became a collaborative piece of art between Mike dozens of followers. By the time the painting was completed, well over 75 individuals had given valuable input.  And many, many more, who didn’t give specific recommendations expressed thanks for providing this creative activity/diversion.  As a bonus, over 70 copies of the painting were printed and sold ….  With 100% of the proceeds going to the wait staff tip jar...

After the Neighborhood Diners painting was complete, Mike started a second Tucson themed painting.  This time the theme being Local Mexican Restaurants. As with the Neighborhood Diner piece, Mike posted updates on various Tucson Facebook pages. Also, as with the Diners painting, individuals gave valuable feedback that was incorporated into the painting.

Over the past four years, most of Mike’s art has focused on this participatory process of creating Tucson themed art.   To date, nine have been completed.  And for each, the stories people have told on Facebook, and the recommendations they made, have given the artwork a texture and feeling it would not have had if there were not the participation. And for individuals who might believe that they didn’t have any artistic talent, they got to actively participate the artistic process.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in southern California; during the mid to late 60s …. Hence I had a front row seat to the cultural, social and artistic shifts that would be sweeping across the country. 

Tell us about your family

My wife (Esther, who has put up with me for over 50 years) and I raised two children, Scott and Melissa.  Both are University of Arizona graduates, and both live in the Phoenix area.  We are also blessed with two grandchildren, Logan and Dylan.  

When did you know that you would be an artist?

Interesting question.  I think “I identified as an artist” at a very young, grade school age.  

What is your favorite media to work with?

My primary medium is currently digital painting.  I love it for a variety of reason, but mostly because it allows me to carry my studio (basically my laptop) with me wherever I go.

(I am often hesitant to use the term Digital Painting to describe my art, for fear that someone might think that all I do is hit a button and viola …. A painting.  In fact, each of my digital street scene paintings take upwards of 200 hours to complete).

What do you do when you’re not doing the voodoo that you do?

In some ways, I don’t think I’m ever entirely not doing art.  If not actively designing and painting; I’m likely thinking about future possibilities.   

I also greatly enjoy my wife and I spending time with our kids and grandkids. Going on cruises with my wife and friends is also high up on the list of things I enjoy doing.

Artworks by Mike Berren

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