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Mike Frizzell 2

Frizzell with a portrait of Bob Marley.

Mike Frizzell is a Sioux City artist with a focus on creating portraits of famous musicians.

He has a 14-year-old girl and trains new employees at the call center of Allied Solutions.

Frizzell is also one of the Benson Building artists who are being displaced at the end of the year and is still looking for a place to house his studio.

You can find his art on his Facebook page, "Michael Frizzell Art."

Mike Frizzell

Mike Frizzell with his portrait of Chris Cornell.

Weekender: When and how did you first get into creating art?

Frizzell: “I’ve always been able to draw, and I used to sculpt when I was a kid. I kind of quit for a while in my 20s and then found it again in my late 30s when I decided to go back to school. I sit and doodle at my desk at work in my down time.”

Weekender: Who are some of your artistic influences?

Frizzell: “Francis Bacon, John Singer Sargent, Lucian Freud…I like a lot of figure artists and portrait artists. Rothko and Gerhard Richter for abstracts. There’s also a lot of contemporary artists out there right now that I like a lot.”

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Frizzell with a portrait of his daughter.

Weekender: What types of things inspire you to create art?

Frizzell: “It’s all about people…I like to paint people. I sit and do a lot of people watching. One of my influences was I grew up reading comics. You see that heroic pose or the heroic proportions…I spent a lot of time looking at their faces, that kind of thing.”

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"Persistence of Time"

Weekender: What is your go-to media?

Frizzell: “I kind of do both acrylic and oil right now when I have the chance…probably more oils than acrylics. If it’s something I need to do quickly, I’ll do acrylic and if it’s something I need to spend a lot of time on, I’ll do oil. Charcoal is another one, I just haven’t done one of those in a while. I do a lot of sketching with charcoal.”

Weekender: Why do you focus so much on rock stars?

Frizzell: “I grew up listening to these musicians. My family is kind of big in country music. One of my uncles (Lefty Frizzell) was famous in the '50s. Some of my other uncles had a few No. 1s in the '80s. I just grew up listening to music all the time. A lot of musicians like Bowie I never got to see, or Alice in Chains with Layne Staley, I even missed Chris Cornell when he came to town. I just thought I’d catch him next time, but he passed away. I like to try to immortalize them.”

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Frizzell's portrait of Dave Grohl.

Weekender: Who are some of your favorite rock stars to paint?

Frizzell: “I paint Bob Marley a lot; I probably have three Bob Marley paintings. I don’t usually try to stick to painting one person, but he’s come around a few times.”

Weekender: What is your creative process?

Frizzell: “Not what my teachers like or what they wanted me to do. Sometimes I sketch out an idea, but most of the time I put the canvas up and start painting. I’ll sketch it out on the canvas and paint from there. It’s not the classical way of figuring out all the proportions first…I figure it out on the fly. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I paint from photography a bit…I can’t exactly get a picture of Bowie alive.”

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Frizzell's moth painting on a glass plate makes it look like a real specimen.

Weekender: What kind of head space do you have to be in to create?

Frizzell: “There’s times when I’m not in the mood to. The reason I have my studio here and not at home is because at home I want to relax; I can sit and watch TV. I have to be able to leave my home to go and paint.”

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Portrait by Frizzell.

Weekender: Is it hard to let go of your pieces when you sell them?

Frizzell: “Yes, it is. It’s hard to let go and finish them. I keep tooling with them, changing things. When someone wants to buy one, I’ll happily sell it. When you spend a lot of time with one piece while creating it, then you look at it while it’s on the wall and think about what you can change…once it’s out of your hands you can’t change anything and it’s really letting go.”

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A print of Frizzell's Notorious B.I.G. portrait.

Weekender: Why do you create art? What does it do for you?

Frizzell: “It helps with depression. It helps take your mind off the everyday problems, or even the little problems you think are bad. You lose track of time.”

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A print of Frizzell's portrait of Prince.

Weekender: Going along with the depression, do you think your emotions affect what you create?

Frizzell: “If I’m in a depressive state, it’s hard for me to get up and going, so I have to force myself to. I’d rather paint while I’m in a better mood. Painting takes my mind off things. It (depression) kills your motivation.”

Weekender: Besides rock stars and people, what are your other focuses?

Frizzell: “I’m trying to focus more on doing some landscapes and still-life painting. I’d like to work on more abstracts, as well. Some of my portraits I try to incorporate abstract elements, and they don’t look completely like the actual subject.”

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A print of Frizzell's watercolor portrait of Janis Joplin.

Weekender: What is your ultimate goal as an artist?

Frizzell: “Just to keep painting. It’s something that I took a lot of years from actually making art, not doing anything but little doodles. I then found out I could still do it, I could paint. I never knew I could paint until I was in my late 30s. Pottery is another thing I like to do when I have the chance.”

Weekender: Describe to me your thoughts of a world devoid of art.

Frizzell: “It’s boring…it’s absolutely boring. There’s nothing to look at. There’s nothing to think about. Art makes you think. It makes you wonder what could be. I love the fact that Sioux City is actually putting art up on the buildings.”

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A print of Frizzell's portrait of Willie Nelson.

Weekender: How has the search for a new studio been going?

Frizzell: “We’ve got a few options. Right now the Ho-Chunk Centre is looking like our best option, but nothing is final. Also, a couple of realtors have come to us and offered to take a look at some of their spaces. I think about 12 or 13 of our artists are looking into making the move when it happens. It has been nice because we’ve gotten support from the community. There’s a lot of amazing talent in Sioux City, and we need to support local art.”

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Weekender writer

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