Realist and surrealist painter Mike Riley of Visalia opened an exhibition of original compositions at Cort Gallery this week. The display of immense and detailed paintings will be featured at the Three Rivers gallery until Monday, Oct. 23.
On that day, Cort Gallery will be transformed to a new exhibition: the works of Three Rivers artist Jean Mayer, who brings her photography, gourd art, and jewelry to the gallery as part of the celebration of her 90th birthday.
Until that time, the popular gallery will house and display the works of Riley.
“I’ve been interested in artwork ever since I was a little kid in Three Rivers drawing tanks and planes,” said Riley. “The creative culture here shaped my formation as a young artist. It was a peaceful place to paint outside with neighbors and friends.”
After growing up in Three Rivers, Riley attended College of the Sequoias and graduated with a major in architecture and a minor in art. He moved onto selling his art at hot rod shows, where he used pastels to portray competitors’ cars while also commuting to San Francisco to paint the Victorian-style homes and neighborhoods.
Following an artistic hiatus as a truck driver and trucking-business owner, Riley refocused on his art. During time away from his art, he and his wife, Celeste, raised two daughters before returning to full-time art ten years ago.
Inspiring photos taken in the real world are used to create landscapes and structures that are sharply focused and many times spiced up with surreal elements, like a combination of Monet and M.C. Escher.
Riley has mostly worked with acrylic paint but is now focused on perfecting his oil painting skills, which he finds more painstaking.
“I will never retire from art,” Mike said. “You can’t walk away from a passion like that. Whenever I paint, I always notice something I can improve on and incorporate into my next project.”
Riley’s show concludes with an artist’s reception. So stop by the gallery Saturday, Oct. 21, for wine, cheese, and live music.
Cort Gallery is located at 41881 Sierra Drive. For information, call 561-4036.