When former CityBeat arts editor Kinsee Morlan first reported on Michael Carini’s paintings in January 2011, she revealed the artist’s mental-health struggles that forced him into seclusion and controlled the way he painted. Carini created technical works of art as if he was insecure about his natural abilities—the opposite of where he’s at now.
Carini is still a slave to his own drive, and his April-and-May residency at Alexander Salazar Fine Art proves it; during the course of 50 days and 500 hours, he produced more than 30 paintings for his show Boy in the Box, opening from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, June 21, at White Box Contemporary (1040 Seventh Ave., Downtown).
Carini is not, however, a slave to his mind anymore, and he thanks Salazar’s program for it. After losing his job, he was on the verge of homelessness this past spring, with no money and no studio.
His last hope was a residency with Salazar, where he’d be forced to work not only in public, but openly, in the tight studio space (aka the “box”) a couple doors down from Salazar’s main gallery.
Amid all the people and bustle, and without privacy, Carini triumphed. He quickly found inspiration in his surroundings, choosing to paint well into Friday and Saturday nights when Downtown is slammed. His door was always open, and people were always walking in. “I was there to spark interest, and my responsibility was to make people feel welcome, and that art is approachable,” says Carini, who often gave away pieces of his work to the homeless.
Carini hopes to sell enough art at his show to get a studio in San Diego. The work in the exhibition—exploding with color and his newly found free brush strokes—represents the relationships he forged Downtown.