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COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University grad Mike Howard, a nationally respected artist and fixture of the New York City art scene, will return to CSU to present his latest body of work, Crossing the Bridge: Paintings of Life and Death.
The Oct. 4-22 show, curated by Fred Fussell, former curator of exhibitions for the Columbus Museum of Art, will be Howard’s first at Columbus State since he graduated in the early 1970s.
An opening reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1 in the gallery will feature comments from both Howard and Fussell.
The work will include a series depicting “The Assassination of Albert Patterson,” referring to the Alabama attorney general who was immortalized in the film, The Phenix City Story, about organized crime that overran the city in the 1950s.
Other works include depictions of the assassinations of icons such as John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, plus the 1940 pickaxe murder in Mexico of exiled Soviet political figure Leon Trotsky and the 1983 killing of subway graffiti artist Michael Stewart by transit officers in a New York City subway.
Raised in Phenix City, Howard served in the Marine Corps., then attended University of Georgia and New York’s Whitney Museum Independent Program. He worked in SoHo as an assistant to the late minimalist artist Donald Judd from 1969-1971 before returning home to complete an art education degree from Columbus College in 1972. He received an MFA from Rutgers University, where he studied with artist Leon Golub and taught for eight years.
Now based in Brooklyn, Howard has exhibited his work around the country since 1971, including a 1990 show at the Columbus Museum.
He also has been associated with Fluxus, a movement emphasizing the concept of anti-art and ridiculing the seriousness of modern art.
A prominent New York art dealer, Michael Walls, once wrote: “With the exception of a small number of superb artists … Michael (Howard) was one of the first painters in New York to work in a manner that combined a tough and rambunctious conceptualization, strong social commentary and an approach to the handling of paint that was both gestural and diagrammatic. The paintings made a deep and lasting impression on the large number of young artists …”
This exhibition in the Illges Gallery coincides with an exhibition of Howard’s work at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center titled Good Ole Boy, curated by Stuart Hordner.
For more information, call 706-507-8300 or visit http://ColumbusState.edu/art.
Images are from Mike Howard’s “The Assassination of Albert Patterson” series: (Top) Moments before the assassination of Albert Patterson. (Bottom) Iconic author and Columbus native Carson McCullers in a Phenix City nightspot.