In this exhibition, Mike Leavitt signals an art market shift. The Seattle artist accurately replicates in cardboard
a nostalgic footlocker of shoes, from ladies pumps to 1980's sneakers. Installed like a thrift shop, the cardboard
shoes will be interspersed with Leavitt's famous action figures, trading cards, Barack Obama pieces, woodcarvings,
velvet paintings, and other small collectibles. Leavitt also includes his "Homeless Executive House", a cardboard
sleeping unit with a miniature scale facade of the New York Stock Exchange. Traditionally distasteful and modest
objects consciously designed for commerce become appropriate in the art world.
Mike Leavitt participates in an art movement that is fast maturing – a melting together of designer toys, hand-made
prints, tattoo parlors, skate shops, street art, and hand-made kitsch that is consuming the art market from the
bottom, up. Between high art and a crumbling economy, Leavitt has found a common ground of inexpensive but
technical works keenly tailored for broad appeal. Inspirations from woodshop, kitchen craft, and figurative
representation energize his shoe replications. In his work, a cheap, disposable material comprises an expensive
product, similar to the manufacture of boutique footwear. His cardboard shoes suggest commercial viability is now
an urgent reality.
Mike Leavitt is Intuition Kitchen Productions – a one-man company pushing a variety of indefinable projects
“Don’t Stop Shopping,” artwork by Michael Leavitt runs March 21 through April 18, 2009, at Fuse Gallery, 93
between conceptual art and lowbrow product and from intricate miniatures to industrial-grade objects. Leavitt’s
most notable work is the “Art Army” series of one-off action figures depicting a range of historical subjects from
Van Gogh to Tupac. The figures are also formatted as custom wedding cake toppers, now a lucrative side-project.
Other projects include “Penny Places”, an ongoing series of “lucky” pennies found in the street, painted with tiny
landscapes showing the exact location where the penny was found; “ArtCards”, hand-drawn trading cards of artists,
sold in wrapped packs with a stale stick of gum; “Portable Homeless Shelters”, made of recycled-material and built
and used in the Seattle area since 1999; and "Push Button Performer" which toured the Pacific Northwest from
1998 to 2003. Leavitt was a resident with the Dale Chihuly video team in 1997. His Barack Obama artwork, from a
marsh-mellow peeps portrait to an elaborate action figure satire, toured with the “Manifest Hope” winner’s circle to
a political event in Rome, Italy just before Election Day 2008. He has work in the collections of actress Geena
Davis, Nike President Mark Parker, and can be found in notable book publications such as Dot Dot Dash: Designer
Toys, Action Figures and Character Art by Gestalten press.
2nd Ave (between 5th & 6th Sts, 2nd Ave stop on the F), NYC, NY. The opening reception, on Saturday, March 21,
from 7 to 10 pm, is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Fuse Gallery at 212.777.7988 or