The Fig Tree Gallery, March 2019

"Happy Art" by Michael Pitzer

Michael Pitzer is an artist member of The Fig Tree Gallery in Fresno, the oldest gallery collective in all of California. In March of 2019, Michael showed his realistic drawings of iconic items that evoked wonderful memories from his childhood. Growing up on the St.Clair River in the small town of Algonac, Michigan, "Happy Art" is as much about masterfully rendered imagery as it is about the personal stories behind each iconic element, and the dialog that naturally flows from the viewers who then tend to share their memories from their childhoods about the same or similar objects.

Artist Statement

MICHAEL PITZER, 3/2019

I wrote my “Artist Stament” for the first art show I had at the Fig Tree Gallery in Fresno, California.

My work is comprised of highly rendered pieces of iconography that come from my childhood growing up on the St. Clair River in Algonac, Michigan. I call my work “Happy Art” because the inspiration to create each piece is simple to appreciate, easy to understand, and the work makes me happy.

Before I started drawing again, I spent 40 years of my life working in advertising, an industry I still love. Twenty of those years were spent as an international, award-winning Executive Creative Director working for some of the largest ad agencies in the country on some of the most creative accounts in the world. Much of that career was spent in vibrant, competitive, creative advertising markets like Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and Phoenix. Then 8 years ago we moved to Fresno… where for the first time in my career I experienced, what it’s like to have my creative soul sucked dry. That was just my experience, and as they say, “your mileage may vary.”

It was awful — but here’s the amazing part; my wife, Lynn, knew how unhappy I was and, without any job offer or freelance prospects to provide income, she told me to quit. I think her exact words were, “Get the f**k out of there now! Please.” I did. That’s where this journey truly begins. Lynn encouraged me to start drawing again — something I hadn’t done in many years. My natural instinct was to pour what I was feeling emotionally into my art. The black mannequin with its hands tied, juxtaposed to the modern painting symbolized the emotional struggle I was feeling of being trapped in darkness, yet needing to let my creativity out. Even my attempt at oils turned out dark and somewhat foreboding. The issue for me was that this series (while true) was not cathartic and was not making me happy.

“Restrained ” painting by Michael Pitzer, 2018

Restained by Michael Pitzer, 2018


I’d always found drawing with pencil to be meditative, so one day, I sat down at my desk and started drawing my Stan Smith tennis shoes. They were so beat-up, just like me. The leather was incredibly soft with some scars and scuffs, like me. And yet they still had a lot of life left in them, once again, like me. When Lynn saw what I was doing she wanted it framed, and hung by our front door so that everyone coming to our home could see what her husband had drawn. That felt so great. It was like being a kid again, and having a drawing put on the refrigerator for everyone to see.

“My Stan Smith's” painting by Michael Pitzer, 2018

My Stan Smith Shoes by Michael Pitzer, 2018


Then it hit me, I was happy, again.

What to draw next? I started thinking about the things that made me happy as a child. As I drew, I put progressive drawings up on Facebook. Family and friends started to comment, offer encouragement, and share their own stories of similar things that had made them happy, too. My art was encouraging conversation and spreading happiness — ergo, “Happy Art” I hope my work brings back happy memories for you, too.

Facebook postings about Michael Pitzer's artwork Facebook postings about Michael Pitzer's artwork