Fans of video games and fine art should make a plan to see the Michael Provenza: Surreal Pointillism art exhibit at the Perrysburg Municipal Building. After leaving his career in the video game industry to be with family in Perrysburg in 2001, Provenza has pursued a career in fine art. Now, he brings his unique experience making video games and distills it through his wondrous, dreamlike landscapes.
Provenza’s story begins near the American epicenter of technology, Silicon Valley. Originally from Southern California, Provenza started drawing and painting when he was 9-years-old. His talent for art was part of his family background. “My grandfather is an artist so I got my influence from that, and some encouragement as well,” said Provenza.
The artist started his career during the early days of the video game revolution, but in those days, most video game companies had not yet begun to employ professional artists. “It was just programmers,” said Provenza.
He found his way into the gaming industry, where he would stay for over 20 years doing background environments and animations, after getting scouted. “I got into these science fiction convention art shows back in the ‘80s,” he said. “There are a ton of video game companies [in Silicon Valley] and they were going to these shows and recruiting artists.”
Passion for analog
Despite Provenza’s deep level of experience in the video game industry, he always maintained his passion for classical painting.
“I’ve always liked the tangible art as opposed to the digital,” remarked Provenza. “It was very nice to transition or create a marriage between the two because it helped me learn more about depth and light. [The art I made in Silicon Valley] gave me an insight on 3D space so much better than I could ever have hoped for,” said Provenza. He chuckled, “It was like going to art school and getting paid to do it.”
Provenza’s current work blends his masterful pointillist oil painting technique with the mentality of a video game developer. He paints vast and lush surreal landscapes which are marked with a certain distinctive and ephemeral quality of a stage from a video game. It’s like walking outside the boundary of a video game level and exploring the quiet wilderness around it.
According to Provenza, these works are inspired by “compositions or concepts that I’ve done for video game art where I really had to think outside the box and create environments that don’t exist, but have a somewhat real quality.” Provenza added, “I’ve always wanted to make paintings like that.”
When he began to get back into traditional painting, he experimented with more traditional subject matter. “I used to do portraits, animals and realistic landscapes of places that exist,” said Provenza. “But it wasn’t doing it for me, I needed something that would push me further.”
Since then, Provenza has taken his art in his own direction: “I love painting scenes to make them like my world… I love the dreamlike feel.”
See his original work during a solo exhibit,
Michael Provenza: Surreal Pointillism, through February 24.
Perrysburg Municipal Building
201 W. Indiana Ave., 419-872-7900.