Featured Artist 2017
PAUL MICICH PROFILE
Paul Micich tells stories without words through his art and music.
He’ll bring his original paintings from the book, "The Littlest Angel," to Art on the Prairie as well as paintings from his new gallery series, Paper Airplane.
Micich’s work has earned him Gold and Silver awards from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles. His work has been chosen to be in illustration annuals for Communication Arts magazine, The Society of Illustrators (New York) and Spectrum International Annual for Fantastic Art. He has received a Citation of Excellence from the National Addy Awards Competition, several Addys (including Best Illustration Addy) from the advertising Professionals of Des Moines and Silver and Bronze awards from the Advertising Professionals of Kansas City. The Art Directors Association of Iowa has awarded Micich’s work several Silver (Best of Category) awards. His work has also been included in Print Regional Design Annuals.
Micich has created four murals for libraries in Iowa: Norwalk Public Library, Pleasant Hill Public Library and Greenwood and Hubbell School Libraries in Des Moines.
Micich’s illustrated edition of the book, “The Littlest Angel,” has sold over 1.4 million copies. His illustrated book, “She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes,” by Mary Kay Shanley, has been a regional best-seller. Micich illustrated “The Memory Box” and “Rhythm of the Seasons,” also picture books with stories written by Mary Kay Shanley.
WORLD PORT, Paul Micich’s Emmy winning band plays music from their six CDs. Their deep source of inspiration is World Music that’s immigrated here, combined with the freedom of a jazz jam. Micich says, “We speak World Music with an accent, the way music has always traveled from one culture to another.” Their unique sound has a variety of cultural influences. During each performance, WORLD PORT blends world styles and rhythms like Caribbean, Celtic, South American, Asian, African, Blues, Klezmer, Flamenco, Bluegrass and more with jazz form and improvisation.
Audiences are also drawn to WORLD PORT performances through Micich's very unusual and expressive instrument, the EVI electric horn. Listeners hear sounds like harmonica, mbira, piano, violin, percussion, flute and more coming from the electric horn. This unique instrument is perfectly suited for WORLD PORT’s exploration of the heart of world music.
Micich says, "With my very unusual looking instrument, the electric horn, I know I'm a constant source of déjà vu. It's so strange looking, yet it helps me have the voice of a violin, or piano, or harmonica, or… But much of my work, as both an artist and musician, is vujà dé, finding the new and unexpected in the familiar.”
When I was contacted to do the paintings for the third edition of the classic children's book, "The Littlest Angel," I remembered the story from the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV Show, but I was surprised to find out the author, Charles Tazewell, was born in Des Moines. In the 1920's he had acted for the precursor of the Des Moines Community Playhouse, located just a few blocks down the street from our home, and a place where I had played as a musician.
I also didn't know how meaningful the book would become for my family and me. The second paragraph of the story says the littlest angel was four years, six months old, the same age as our son, Ari, who became the model for the character. Many of our friends and members of my wife's choirs were models for my paintings, including my friend, Steve George, who became the "gatekeeper angel," and our friend, pastor Wayne Shoemaker, who passed away recently at the age of 95. He said he couldn't sing a lick, but he wanted to get a little singing credit in my painting of the "heavenly choir." The elderly Charlotte Fisk, the first woman doctor in Iowa, was the perfect model for the "understanding angel." True to form, she forgave me for having to portray her character as a man. The publisher wouldn't add a letter to the story to change "he" to "she."
It's moving to me to have spent the time with family and friends to make the paintings in the book. This universal story of simple gifts is a gentle tale of embracing the "other," the "outsider," and drawing them close. It serves as a reminder of the generosity of spirit we can find when we look to our better angels. P. Micich