About Michael Schliefke
A sarcastic eye has always informed the oil paintings and drawings of Michael Schliefke. Armed with a love of art history, Michael’s paintings often use allegory, allusions and references to pop cultural and art history to comment on personal ideas and social issues.
A 1997 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, Michael lived in Ireland and traveled extensively through Europe before moving to Austin, Texas. For twelve years, he was an important cog in the burgeoning art scene in a city growing at a destructive pace. Michael participated and assisted in the growth and development of the East Austin Studio Tour. In addition to painting and showing regularly, Michael also put together a series of large group shows. These themed art events pushed the boundaries between art and artist, and artist and audience. The shows received numerous awards and critical acclaim, and succeeded in uniting eclectic mixes of artists with large crowds. Michael allowed his work to take him to places he never expected – he wrote and drew three volumes of a satirical comic book about the rapid growth and gentrification of East Austin sarcastically titled, “The Really White Vigilante”.
In 2014, Michael moved back to Kansas City. In his time back, Michael has painted sets for the Lyric Opera, continued to teach private painting and drawing classes, and put together a large art show and event called ‘The Game Show’, which featured artwork from 20 artists and a large, artist built game show with contestants pulled from the audience. Michael is currently working on concepts for a new group show, alongside a new body of work and is writing a fictional comedic novelette about life as an artist.
Michael grew up in the northeast, and studied painting at the Kansas City Art Institute. In the years following graduation, he sold hot dogs at the K, touched up over 10,000 decorative oil paintings from Hong Kong, and worked his way up from a data entry temp to an essential team member of a Fortune 500 company in Ireland, before volunteering for a layoff moving to Austin, Texas in 2002.
Painting and working in Austin, Texas for 12 years, Michael began teaching painting and drawing classes. Michael also started to curate small painting shows to help develop the Austin art scene, and these shows blossomed into award winning curated events with up to sixty participating artists. In 2007, Michael took a break from painting to create, write, and draw the satirical Really White Vigilante comic book series about the gentrification of East Austin and the rapid growth of Austin.
Michael also assisted the founding members of the Big Medium artist group. He helped with their East Austin Studio Tour during its formative years by working on websites to book production for its annual event. In addition to that work, Michael was a contract artist at Blue Genie Art. There, he worked on various large scale commercial sculptures and painting projects. He also co-created and produced the Blue Genie Danger Derby, a pinewood derby race filled with a 100 foot track lined with fire pits and cartoonish obstacles that cars built by artists and the general public would compete against.
For all his efforts in Austin, Michael was inducted as a member of both Big Medium and Blue Genie Art into the Austin Critics’ Table Hall of Fame in May, 2014. In July, 2014 Michael finally returned to Kansas City. Michael continues to paint and draw and is continuing to create large art events that bring artists and the public together.