Art for Life

This is the Blog for, the official website of Delaware artist Michael J. Riley.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Welcome to the Good Life!

Life comes at us in many different directions. One minute it is looking pretty good and at times... not so good. But, I have come to realize that no matter what comes up... Life is good. I used to work at a particularly difficult job. It got to the point where it was a struggle just to give a darn about anything there. See, my eyes finally were opened and I no longer liked what I was seeing. But, I hesitated in making a move out the door. Well, turns out that I didn't have to make that move. It was made for me. No, I did not get fired and no my former employer did not give me a phony speech about, "thinking it is best if we parted ways..." The way it went down was that they said they were eliminating my position. My response was, Whew!" Thank you! As much as I had been praying for God to help me to deal with that situation at the bank... His final answer was, "You're out of there!" The Holy Spirit told me before they even called me into the office what they were about to say. I think the two people who told me the news did not realize that they were giving me an invitation to a party to which they were not invited. So, as I read the letter they gave to me, it didn't read as intended... I did not see bad news. In fact, when I read it, I saw Good news, "Welcome to the good life!" Now, I am free and responsible for my own future. I am no longer bound to negativity and a whole lot of other crap. Today, I am finally free to pursue my art and choose where to apply my energy and attention.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

June 6, 2008 Art Exhibit

Delaware based artist Michael J. Riley will be the featured artist on the Wilmington Art Loop for the month of June 2008 at the North Wilmington Library location. He will be debuting several recent works in oils and other media.

Visit for sneak preview.

Black Delaware Artist Story

I appreciated reading an article in the News Journal on May 6, 2008 concerning Mr. Harmon Carey’s efforts to gain exposure for local Black artists. The article was extremely well written and for some, possibly a revelation. However, unfortunately, I am too familiar with the article’s subject matter.

Society needs to realize that whether an artist is Black or White has no bearing on the quality of work he/she produces. It is possible that race might influence the subject or style an artist may prefer. However, the relevancy of his/her work needs to be determined by skill and originality, along with personal, social, religious or economic value, etc.

I believe that exposure is only one piece of the puzzle and that the artists mentioned in the article represent only a portion of a greater equation. In addition to Mr. Loper’s, there are other bloodlines of African American artists in Delaware. I respect and appreciate Mr. Loper’s and other's accomplishments and contributions in the field of art. However, my mentor was the late Mr. Theodore E. Wells, I.

Mr. Wells was one of the most fascinating and talented artists whom I have ever met. He served his country during World War II, was very well educated and dedicated his life to perfecting his craft. Unfortunately, Mr. Wells passed away in 1998. However, his legacy lives on in the form of his existing works, which seem to be appreciated more on the national and international level as opposed to the local level, and in all of the students he has taught privately and in his role as an educator at Bancroft Middle School. Mr. Wells is listed in the Encyclopedia of Who's Who in American Education.

I owe a significant debt to Mr. Wells, as he inspired me to pursue my education and to aspire to become a professional artist. As a matter of fact, Mr. Wells used to provide me with costly art supplies during my time as a student at the Art Institute of Philadelphia in the 1980’s and continued to mentor me until his untimely death. I am humbled that his family thought so much of our relationship, that upon his passing, they gave me the majority of his art-related tools and supplies, including the monogrammed bag that he used to tote his wares during the 1940’s.

I feel that although seeking exposure is a vital step in launching one's art career, it is only one leg of a long and challenging journey. The ultimate goal for many serious artists, Black or otherwise, is gaining representation and appreciation of their art, which can only be accomplished through perseverance and inclusion. Until all local artists have access to equal exposure and representation, then the image of Delaware’s art community will continue to be perceived as having been painted utilizing a limited palate and lacking the impact and brilliance provided by a full spectrum of color.