In the Studio – Mike Elsass Sun, 24 Nov 2013 16:08:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mike Elsass still expanding exhibit space He has vision for special events. Sun, 24 Nov 2013 16:06:14 +0000 Mike Elsass still expanding exhibit space He has vision for special events by Pamela Dillion for the Dayton Daily News, October 26, 2013

Nationally known local artist Mike Elsass is very good at what he does. Not only as an artist but also as a manager of his art career. He’s been busy opening up new exhibit space at Front Street, and he has a new gallery in Centerville.

“The Color of Energy is repositioning. It’s still there, but we’re sharing space with Hicks’ Barber Shop and Spiced Paradise that has exotic spices from all over the world,” said Elsass. “They staff the Color of Energy when I’m not there, which is most of the time.”

He already had a 1,200 square foot studio space in the Front Street warehouse, but he doubled that area with a new space to show off his works.

“I’ve got my big painting space, but I always wanted to have a white box, an all-white room, where I could just sit and meditate and look at the art. This spot became open on Sept. 1, and I could not turn it down,” said Elsass. “We’ll have a variety of things here with music, church speakers and a furniture staging show one weekend.”

In the meantime, he is busy as ever working on commissions for local residents.

He recently finished two large-scale works for homes in Centerville and Oakwood.

“My work is evolving, where it’s much more organic with more of the original elements like the steel and the rust,” said Elsass. “The patterns of the pieces have a sense of a former life. We don’t know what that is, but there is a little mystique there.”

The newer works have a more weathered patina with soft, subtle colors that blend with the earth and the steel. He incorporated steel shavings and sand to add texture to one of his recent works.

The new site in Centerville is known as the Pop Up Gallery, at the corner of Spring Valley Pike and Ohio 48. It features his works and the art of Bob Rhoads, who lives in Sugarcreek Twp. and owns R.A. Rhoads Custom Homes and does contemporary etchings in wood.

“This gallery allows for more accessibility for people who live south of town,” said Rhoads, who is currently busy overseeing the construction of several houses. “I’ve had no time to work on my art, but I continue to sell from my inventory.”

The gallery also features the works of guest artists. Shon Walters is a Dayton artist who specializes in unique wood sculptures and wood furniture. His art was shown in the gallery this past spring, and he sold an Osage wood coffeetable with a walnut base. Diane Bowling, a West Carrollton artist who works in watercolor and acrylic, manages the gallery on the weekends.

According to Elsass, there are several events planned. Ginny Strausburg, president of the Centerville Arts Commission, will be at the Pop Up Gallery on Nov. 8 painting with members of the Centerville City Council. They will be working on a piece of art that will be auctioned on Feb. 9 at “Art at the Trace.”

He will also be showcasing his art at Centerville Home Fireplace & Patio on Nov. 10. He is opening up his new Front Street exhibit space for the U.D. Senior Art Show from Nov. 15-22. It is at 1001 E. Second St.

“The opening is the same day as ‘Fall Into the Arts’ from 6 to 9 that evening,” said Elsass. “They’ll open the Front Street artists’ studios with food trucks and live theater.”

If all this isn’t enough to keep Elsass busy, he still flies out to the Miraval Spa in Tucson, Ariz., during March, May and October. The spa showcases his art, and he holds “Brush Before the Brain” art classes with spa guests 40 days a year.

“It’s a tough gig. I have to paint with beautiful women from all over the world all day,” said Elsass.

Larger Work, Bigger Spaces Wed, 01 Aug 2012 21:27:13 +0000 Many of you know, Mike knows how to keep himself busy. He always seems to have a project or two going on these days. Mike recently began working on some new steel that is unlike anything he has ever done before. The new size and shape are what he likes to call “ripples”. The ripples were designed with Mike’s curved shapes in mind that are loved by so many people, but give a new, fresh perspective and challenge to the artist himself!
The largest ripple is 38×92 inches and about 10 inches deep at its deepest point. We are excited to see how the new shapes look when they are finished and also to see where they end up! They are truly unique and bring a dimensionality to the work that has not been present before. Check back for more images and updates on these new shapes.

The ripples aren’t Mike’s only summer project. Recently, Mike has been involved in an effort with the city of Miamisburg to begin a summer art gallery in the downtown area. Together with city officials and local businesses, Mike was able to help set up a “pop-up” art gallery on Main Street  that will feature the work of many local artists throughout the summer. The opening took place in early June and featured work by Mike, the associate editor of the Dayton Daily News; Ron Rollins, and Dayton Police Major; Larry Faulkner. There will be two more shows held throughout the summer featuring other local artists. You can read more about the upcoming exhibitions here:

Not only has Mike had to opportunity to show his work in downtown Miamisburg this summer, but he has been able to paint his work there as well. As his work grows larger and larger, so does his need for a space to house the work. When Mike paints, he paints on many pieces at once, which can be challenging with the sizes he has been focusing on as of late. Not only has the space in Miamisburg transformed into a gallery, but the 3rd floor of the same building has become a space where Mike is able to view and paint on all his large pieces at the same time.

The brightly lit, 4,000 square foot room has become a chapel of sorts to him. Here, Mike is working on over 40 large pieces, including 40×56 inch pieces and 56×60 inch pieces. These works will be featured in R.A. Rhoads’ homes during Dayton’s Homearama from September 14-30 in Oakwood. Some of these pieces are also part of a large commission that will be shipped out west. Enjoy some photos below of Mike’s “summer chapel” and the progress of his new ripple shape, and as always, thank you for your support!

001 002 003 004 005 Ripple001 Ripple002 Ripple003 Ripple004 Ripple006 Ripple007 Ripple008




Studio Update Mon, 23 Apr 2012 22:57:34 +0000 Mike Elsass’ acrylic on rusted steel paintings are only increasing in demand these days. For Mike, this means experimenting with new sizes, shapes, and painting techniques to bring fresh perspective to his work.  I spent the day at Mike’s studio and I was excited to see all the progress he’s made since the close of his large scale, Miraval Spa project. He is currently working on many different sets of tall, thin pieces. Below are images of his wildly popular 12×48 inch pieces. Mike is painting 15 pieces in this series. This size sells well at Gruen Gallery in Chicago, as well as here in Dayton. Mike has also been working on sets of both 9×74 and 8×62 inch pieces. If you like his tall, skinny, verticals, look for these new works in the Color of Energy Gallery soon!

Recently, Mike has also had a high demand for larger scale works. He has recently finished many 40×56 and 56×60 inch pieces that will surely stand out in any room. If you have a big wall in need of artwork, These sizes definitely have a strong presence in any setting.


Mike is excited about the energy in his studio. The bright washes of color and new texture explorations are really paying off! Great job, Mike! Enjoy these photos of Mike’s progress, and don’t forget to stop by the gallery to see the new work in person on Urban Nights. (May 11, from 5-10pm).

The Color of Steel Tue, 13 Dec 2011 04:33:51 +0000 elsassThe Color of Steel: One DCP writer’s account of painting with a master – Mike Elsass by Annie Bowers

The scent of acrylic paint, polyurethane and incense lingered in the air at the old warehouse. Industrial fans hummed, and someone down the hall was using the freight elevator; I could hear the distinctive creak of the lift’s gate and the rumbling motor in the distance. I looked at the paint-splattered work table in front of me and there they were — my modest but brilliant painted steel masterpieces. As I stood in the Front Street Studio and gazed down at the beautiful works I had created, my white tuxedo shirt streaked in an array of colors and my fingernails caked with paint, chalk and sand, I felt only one thing — pure satisfaction.

There should be more days when we allow ourselves just one goal: create beauty. I’ve had the unique opportunity to spend some time in the Front Street Studios, working and painting alongside nationally acclaimed artist, Mike Elsass. A retiree from the insurance industry and a free spirit at heart, Elsass began painting after Roger Sayre, a renowned steel artist and Mike’s self-proclaimed mentor, inspired him to begin experimenting with layers of rust and acrylic on steel.

“I was fascinated by the color, texture and nuances of how the rust reacted with steel,” said Elsass. “I was on the Gulf Coast and had a load of steel in the back of the truck; the spray from the ocean tainted it in really neat ways … it just grabbed me.”

Elsass’ Dayton gallery, the Color of Energy, located at 16 Brown St. in the Oregon District, along with countless other renowned galleries from Sedona to Chicago, showcase his talent — a dynamic, vibrant body of art that is rich in color, depth, motion and texture.

Elsass draws artistic inspiration from his travels to many places that are close to his heart — from Quebec, to the Gulf Coast and the Louisiana swamps, to the Arizona desert and the Midwest countryside. His work reflects his spontaneous nature, his appreciation for finding beauty in the abstract, and his motto, “There are no mistakes.” To Mike, the steel represents strength, aging, imperfections and the beauty in nature.

“I like to move about and paint … I grab the energy of the moment and the place,” said Elsass. “I always say ‘brush ahead of the brain’ because painting shouldn’t be outcome-based; it’s about feeling the energy of your surroundings and letting it guide you.”

steelThe process of applying sometimes as many as 40 layers of paint, glaze, sand and steel shavings to the rusted, imperfect surfaces acts as a metaphor for the stages of life — we begin with a relatively blank slate and over time add layers of depth and natural elements that represent various experiences and emotions. The end result, just like each of our lives, is a work that is imperfect yet profound, beautiful and unique.

After rolling up the sleeves of the white tuxedo shirt Mike provided me with (a happy and fancy alternative to the traditional smock), I participated in the various stages of the creative process … from the very beginning when the sheets of steel were treated with vinegar and sand, covered in plastic and left to corrode, to the process of applying color and texture, layer after layer. As I experimented with different colors, sand, powders, brushes and rollers, I became more comfortable in what began as foreign territory; gradually I relaxed, stopped thinking about the things I’d neglected on my daily to-do list, and settled into painting, which became meditative and therapeutic.

As I worked, I realized that like life, creating art is a process. I couldn’t expect perfection from the get-go, and I didn’t necessarily know where I was headed. There were times when I felt I’d made mistakes, but the beauty of the process allowed me to keep going, over and over, until it felt right.

Sometimes I asked Mike for guidance, and other times I dug through the buckets of acrylics, picked one (burnt orange was a reliable stand-by) and tried again on my own. A little color here, some copper dust there, a few more brushstrokes … I followed my whims, watched and learned, and eventually found comfort and reassurance in knowing “there are no mistakes.” And when all was said and done, the result was a beautiful collaborative effort — perfect in its imperfection.

For me, painting with Mike is an escape from the ordinary, an escape from routine —for me, painting allows me to simply create. But it’s more than that — painting is a lesson; it’s an exercise in personal growth. It stretches the boundaries of familiarity, inspires creative freedom and allows me to experience a glimpse inside the life of an artist. I value the days when I allow myself to simply create. I revel in the colors, scents and feel of the work … by painting with Elsass, I get to experience firsthand the color of energy.

elsass tux shirtIn addition to creating art for his galleries and working on commissioned pieces, Elsass holds classes and workshops for those interested in exploring their more artistic sides. He periodically hosts special events and exhibits at his Color of Energy Gallery as well as open houses with wine, food and fine art every First Friday from noon until 10 p.m. Art lovers and novices alike can find Elsass’ pieces at a number of Dayton locations, including Sidebar, the Dayton Racquet Club, the Envelope, Penny Lane Publishing, Centerville Design, Deck the Walls and Vintage Scout Interiors.

Visit the gallery, sign up for a class, or just stop by to say hello, and you’ll see for yourself why the work of this incredibly talented local artist has become so widely acclaimed. Once you experience the beauty of painting on steel with Mike Elsass, you won’t know what hit you — and you’ll never turn back.