Todd Mrozinski acquired his BFA in painting from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design in 1997 and in 1996 attended The New York Studio Program. He has been in solo and group exhibitions nationwide and his work is in various public and private collections. The elements of earth, air, fire, water and spirit, as well as his home and everyday objects are his subject matter. In 2012, after the death of his father, Todd became interested in and started working with cast shadows. His work is produced in series, each series relates symbolically to life experience and grows out of inspiration. He and his wife, Renee Bebeau, have a studio in The Nut Factory, Milwaukee, WI. Todd was the 2015-16 Pfister Artist-in-Residence, curator of the Pfister Pop-Up Gallery and is currently represented by The Woodman/Shimko Gallery, Provincetown, MA and Palm Springs CA.
"I think in painting one is brought to see in a different way. Ordinarily we are rather asleep to the world around us and being forced to look, and then to render in paint... paper, compels one to see both inward and outward, to learn a little more about oneself as well as learning about the nature of things."
Todd Mrozinski's Drawings, Watercolors and Videos at Schlueter Art Gallery, Wilsconsin Lutheran College, 2017
For 19 years, since graduating from MIAD, I seldom did a drawing or watercolor and didn't even consider making a video. I worked mainly in oil and occasionally in acrylic paint. In 2015 I was chosen to be the the Artist-in-Residence at The Pfister Hotel where I made almost 200 oil paintings based on the cast shadows of guests, associates and elements of the hotel. Near the end of the year long residency I felt myself burning out on oil painting. I began making watercolors based on the cast shadows of Pfister elements as well as objects from my home in preparation for the transition. I was struck by the immediacy of the medium and the freedom I felt while making this new work.
Along with the residency, I was curating a pop-up gallery in the hotel that I started in a vacant store space. One of the last shows was called "Teachers" and featured the work of three of my MIAD instructors. One artist was Polly Ewens-Caster whose drawings inspired me to pick up a pencil again. After having painted so many shadows it was wonderful to make drawings of the actual objects around me. The first window drawing was made in The Pfister's Imperial Ballroom and would be the start of The Hobbit Haus Drawings which I did when returning to my home, post-residency. These drawings are an intimate look at my home and the views from it. I drew every window in my house, some multiple times and often at night. The Pfister studio had no windows so these drawings were a celebration of this renewed perspective, a love of home and the joy of solitude.
A camping trip with a sketchbook and magnificent clouds ended the Hobbit Haus Drawing Series and started the Landscape Drawing Series. I went back to our spacious Nut Factory studio and was astounded by the amazing views I witnessed from the rooftop. These drawings are about the freedom of expansion and awe of the natural word. Many of these drawings were featured in "Drawn Out" at Portrait Society Gallery in the spring of this year.
My interest in video started in The Pfister studio where there was a camera set up to record time-lapse videos of the working process of the current Artist-in-Residence. These videos could then be used to promote and educate guests about the artist and work. I continued this practice of recording myself on my phone when returning to our studio. I started filming the sky in time-lapse from the rooftop while investigating cloud formations for the large scale drawings, which I did in the studio. Some of this footage was used in promotional videos about my work and I began experimenting with using video as a medium in itself. In collaboration with the music of two of my favorite Milwaukee bands, WC Tank and NINETEEN THIRTEEN, I began to make layered autobiographical videos which were recently screened at Walkers Point Center for the Arts.
The Shadow Series: Artist Statement
"Butades, a potter of Sicyon, was the first who invented, at Corinth, the art of modeling portraits in the earth which he used in his trade. It was through his daughter that he made the discovery; who, being deeply in love with a young man about to depart on a long journey, traced the profile of his face, as thrown upon the wall by the light of the lamp. Upon seeing this, her father filled in the outline, by compressing clay upon the surface, and so made a face in relief, which he then hardened by fire along with other articles of pottery.”
-Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (circa 77–79AD)
The shadow series started on the one year anniversary of my father's death. Wanting to connect with him, I started to paint his portrait based off of a black and white photo from when he was a young priest. I had not painted a traditional portrait in years and soon was frustrated. Disgruntled, I laid on the couch until my wife entered the studio. She saw the large amount of dark acrylic paint mixed on the palette and asked if she could cover the canvas so it would not go to waste. I agreed and took a nap. When I woke up, I noticed the warm light coming in through the front door. I looked out at the tree shadows and realized, in that instant, what I needed to paint. I took the dark canvas off the working wall, laid it on the ground, knelt down and traced the tree shadow directly onto the canvas. I realized as life is to light, death is to shadows, one cannot be without the other. My dad was showing himself in a different form and I felt his presence profoundly. The shadow series began.
My work is a record of what is going on around me in the present moment. My subject matter is my family, friends, house and yard which I record and adore on a daily basis. The beauty and power of shadows, the mysterious and ever changing light that creates them and their ambiguity and implied meaning continue to inspire me and infuse my work. Each painting begins by tracing the object’s cast shadow directly onto the canvas and is an actual size record of time and space. I am constantly amazed how a single outline can capture a gesture, mood and personality and how color and edge can create space, focus and mood. Each painting becomes a light infused container that preserves a moment, painted directly though the malleable and flowing medium of oil paint. Through drips, skeins and piles of paint, the surface becomes activated and glows with a light from within.
These are paintings of gratitude, joy and love that I feel for my family, home and loved ones and the light that infuses our lives. Intimate views of contemplation, interaction and everyday life are recorded during a specific time, conveying a universal feeling. I never know what the next day will bring, it is a constant treasure hunt where the jewels are always right under my nose. -2015
Artist Statement: Bouquet Shadow Series
On the spring equinox, my wife and I were married. These paintings are a celebration of that bounty and love which infused this event, symbolized by the wedding altar. Each painting began by tracing the object’s cast shadows directly onto the canvas. Recorded in actual size, these are preservers of time and space. I wish to paint feeling directly though the malleable and flowing medium of oil paint. These are paintings of gratitude, joy and love that I feel for my wife and loved ones, recorded during a specific time, conveying a universal feeling. -2014
About the Clothing Paintings (2001-2015)
I wish to paint people but have little interest in painting skin. Emotion can be painted just as well in the colar of a shirt as it can be in the darkness of an eye. The folds of a dress, how a jacket sits in the space of a painting, the patterns, colors and styles become symbols of a unique individual and give emotional resonance. My subjects are the people closest to me and my sensibilities. These beautiful object are all around us, one says, paint me, and i paint it. The pillows, landscapes and moons came out of the same voice saying, I am next, I am so beautiful I must be painted. When I was a child I remember running my hand over the velvet pillows, being fascinated by the way light would hit velvet and then change just because the fur was brushed. It is in these moments of present contemplation that I find the most joy. Painting is both a pathway to and evidence of that state. These paintings capture the emotional landscape of human existence that everyone wears and experiences in smears and drips and piles of paint.
" clothing is the shell that reveals the inner world of the wearer." -journal entry 2004
About the Cloud Paintings (2010-11)
These paintings were done during a time of great freedom and expansion in my life. The shape of the clouds developed out of the process of painting. Each painting was done in the studio and was inspired by recently viewed clouds.
About the Fire Paintings (2007-2009, 2017)
Many of these paintings are done from memories and photos of fires that I have had in my yard. Each fire is unique, spreads it's own light, is the center of gatherings and a source of meditation. Most of us have the primeval urge to sit in front of a fire. By painting them I wish to capture the wonder of fire, to offer the viewer the opportunity to see an ever changing natural element frozen in time. My work deals with the tension between surface and image, the play between foreground and background, the hidden and revealed image, and a concentration of sensation.
-artist statement 2007
About the Log Paintings (2003-2009)
"right now I'm painting logs, that is what I kept thinking about a while ago, so I just started to paint them. I guess they make me more aware of the beauty and joy in life, and act as a meditation on mortality and as Guston has said, "the thickness of things". For me, paintings can act as memory containers, vessels that hold symbolic meaning, evidence of investigation into a subjects materiality and essence and the very beauty and lusciousness of paint that transforms into space and light on a flat surface.
The objects I paint kind of jump out at me as little treasures, the idea of finding the divine in the mundane is really interesting to me. Painting is a means to stay in an artistic state, which I find is a spiritual state. When I’m in that aesthetic state of mind, objects and environments and people look fascinating, like when you were a little kid and saw a dog for the first time. I love being in that state, that’s my goal. And to paint what I see as truth. "
-from a letter to a friend, 2006
Born. Rensselaer, IN, 1974
1997 BFA, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee, WI (Fredrick Layton Scholarship, partial)
1996 Fall Semester: New York Studio Residency Program, The New School/Parsons School of Design, New York, NY
2018 (Forthcoming) 30 Year Survey Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts, Fond du Lac, WI
2017 Shadow Play, Vignette, Milwaukee, WI
2017 Transitional Mediums, Drawings, Watercolors and Videos, Schlueter Art Gallery, Wisconsin Lutheran College, Brookfield, WI
2017 Video Screening with WC Tank and NINETEEN THIRTEEN, Walkers Point Center for the Arts, Milwaukee, WI
2016 The Light From The Pfister, The Pfister Pop-Up Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2014 Tree Shadows, Gallerie M, Milwaukee WI
2014 Light From a Window, (Artist Talk) Inspiration Studios, West Allis, WI
2014 "Libations!" and Shadow Portraits, Cafe Lulu, Milwaukee, WI
2009 Journey of the Elf, Frontroom Photography, Milwaukee, WI
2002 Recent Paintings, Windhover Center for the Arts, Fond du Lac, WI
Selected Group Exhibitions:
2017 The Bliss of Husking Kenetic Fires, Jazz Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2017 Midwest Artists Studios, Walkers Point Center for the Arts, Milwaukee, WI
2017 Drawn Out, Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2017 Color, It's Beauty and It's Relevance, CUW Art Gallery, Concordia University, Milwaukee, WI
2016 12-12-12, Frank Juarez Gallery, Sheboygan, WI
2016 Bridges, The Pfister Pop-Up Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2016 Tellspiel, Eighty Art and Design Gallery and Studio, Sheboygan WI
2016 Love Letters, The Pfister Pop-Up Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2015 Teachers, The Pfister Pop-Up Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2015 PEOPLE, The Pfister Pop-Up Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2015 Dusk to Dawn, Jazz Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2015 Infinite Landscapes, The Pfister Pop-Up Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2015 Indiana Green, Frank Juarez Gallery, Sheboygan. WI
2015 Light, Usable Space, Milwaukee, WI
2015 Biography of a Stitch, The Pfister Pop-Up Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2015 The Shadow Show, 10th Street Gallery, Milwaukee, WI (co- curator)
2014 Silhouettes, Linus Gallery Online Exhibition with possible inclusion in forthcoming show, Long Beach/Pasadena, CA
2014 The Glass Menagerie, A Visual Dialogue, 10th Street Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2014 2014 Landscape Society Gallery Plein Air Invitational, Marshall Building, Milwaukee, WI
2014 2 Paintings featured at Timothy Cobb Fine Arts, Milwaukee, WI
2014 Dreams and Sanctuaries, 10th Street Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2014 Clothesline Musings, The Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia, PA
2014 A Stitch in Time, Art Upstairs Studio Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2013 00000 GHOST $HOW IV, Imagination Giants, Milwaukee, WI
2013 Presents with Presence, 10th Street Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2013 Full Spectrum, The Jazz Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2013 Clothing Paintings, Woodman/Shimko Gallery, Palm Springs, CA
2013 West End Music Conservatory Art Walk, Wauwatosa, WI
2013 The Nut Factory Annual Show, Milwaukee, WI
2012 Riverwest Artwalk, Milwaukee, WI (Awarded best Instillation, judge: Graeme Reid)
2012 Summer Show, Sadler Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2011 Rooted in Nature, Elaine Erickson Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
2011 Guest Artist, Katie Musolff, Artist in Resident, The Pfister, Milwaukee, WI
2010 Spring Show, Frank Allen Gallery, Glendale, WI
2009 Group Show, Walkers Point Center for the Arts, Milwaukee, WI
2009 5th Annual Milwaukee Artist Marketplace, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI
2008 Spring Show, Frank Allen Gallery, Glendale, WI
2006 Group Show, Beans and Barley, Milwaukee, WI
2005 Group Show, Cafe Bruche, Milwaukee, WI
2003 Teapots to Still Lifes, Spring Street Gallery at the Galena Art Center, Galena, IL
2002 10th Anniversary Juried Exhibition, Anderson Arts Center,Kenosha, WI
2001 Wisconsin Artist Biennial Exhibition, Rahr-West Art Museum, Manitowoc, WI and the Anderson Arts Center, Kenosha, WI
1997 Group Show, Prototype Gallery, Milwaukee, WI