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Art. Culture. Life.

LQAF Gallery Spotlight: Mike Conlen

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Mike Conlen is an American sculptor, designer and craftsman based in Grass Valley, California. He earned his Master’s Degree in Sculpture from San Diego State University CSU, where he focused on cast bronze and fabricated steel sculpture. In addition to working as an artist for over four decades, Conlen has taught sculpture, figure sculpting and creative design in metals at Sierra College in Grass Valley and Rocklin.

Conlen works in a number of mediums including steel, bronze and wood. His pieces range from pedestal sculpture, furniture, to outdoor sculpture.   In 2007, the Imaginarium Science Center in Nevada County commissioned Conlen to create an interactive sculpture, as part of their art and technology exhibit “It’s Sunsational”.  His modern sculpture featured welded copper, stainless steel, and interactive solar panels, which turned on the fountain. 

Imaginarium Fountain “Sun Falls” by Mike Conlen

“It’s just one of those instant things,” Imaginarium Director Judy Nielsen said, swinging around the solar panel and teasing it with the warm sun. “They love the pond. We’ve had 15 kids sitting on the bridge eating their lunch. They just love it.” (The Union, “Interactive sculpture a solar sensation”).

Furthermore, in his contemporary sculptures, Conlen’s style and abstract forms are inspired by everything from chance visual encounters to crystalline structures and growth patterns found in nature. 

Terraplane by Mike Conlen

 “Terraplane started out as an incomplete study in clay. When I moved to cutting shapes in sheet metal, the forms began to resolve. Some pieces come easy, some not so much, as was the case here. The strength of this piece comes from the sinewy tension that underlies the work. There is a muscularity to the sculpture that I hope will draw the viewer in.”—Mike Conlen

View his sculpture at his LQAF.com Artist Gallery.