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Mikey Welsh Transforms from Mental Illness to Outsider Artist

What a Lot of Trouble I've Made, Painting by Mikey Welsh
What a Lot of Trouble I’ve Made, Painting by Mikey Welsh

Former bassist of the rock band Weezer, Mikey Welsh was introduced to art at a young age by his mother, who is a classically-trained painter. He continued to work on art until the age of 19, when he started his music career. According to his website, after suffering a nervous breakdown Welsh dedicated himself to painting full-time and since 2001 he has had several successful solo exhibitions, selling his work to collectors and working private commissions.

Welsh suffers from bipolar disorder. When asked in a recent interview at PBS.org how this might affect his artwork, he says:

I can only speak for myself, and as someone who has bipolar disorder I do believe that the symptoms that make up the disease can contribute greatly to my work. On the mania end of things, I feel that it can definitely heighten my senses and keep me in touch with the bits of energy that are floating around — I’m able to grab them and use them when I’m painting. On the other hand, the severity of the depressions that I have to live with — debilitating depressions that leave me unable to function — completely destroy any chance I have of creating work. But when I come out of them, I feel again like my senses are heightened, that I “feel” more than other people. I believe that these things can contribute dramatically to creating art.

When asked about the term “outsider art”? Welsh says:

I suppose it’s all right, that term. As far as placing self-taught artists in a certain context, I guess it works, although the few “outsider artists” I know of (myself included) more or less show their work at the same galleries as artists who have had formal training. So in that regard, it’s somewhat meaningless.

Mikey Welsh has created designs for a line of  snowboards by Burton, and has designed goggles for Gordini’s GASP line.

Gordini GASP goggles by Mikey Welsh
Gordini GASP goggles by Mikey Welsh

New paintings by Mikey Welsh will be presented at the Slingluff Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsilvania. The gallery will host an opening reception with Welsh July 2, 2011 from 6-9p. The Slingluff Gallery and Mikey Welsh are also running a contest for fans to have a BBQ with Welsh. The winner will also receive a painting by Mikey Welsh. For more information and to enter the contest go to http://www.SlingluffGallery.com/Events.html.

For more information about Mikey Welsh and his artwork visit http://www.mikeywelsh.com/.

See the Pop Life Art celebrity artists list for links to the artwork of more musicians that paint.