I first met Mike at his home on the outskirts of Eugene, Oregon. He has a beautiful mountainside property, and a gorgeous house to match that he designed himself. Huge yet tasteful windows looking out into the surrounding forest, a porch decorated with flowers (and one very large aloe plant), and an entry room to the house overtaken with piles of stones waiting to be carved. Stones of all colors, designs and shapes from South America, Europe, Africa, Asia—his rocks are international. As a lover of stones and crystals myself, I can say with confidence that his are some of the prettiest I have ever seen.

What I have described may give the impression that Mike is, to put it bluntly, one of those rich and pampered artist archetypes. You may think, because he has a big beautiful house and acres of property to boot, that he has already “made it,” and sculpts in quiet luxury. What I haven’t told you is that in order to build his big, beautiful house, he had to live in a trailer for 13 years to save up the money. He regularly completes commissioned work from all over the world to create not only standalone art installments, but also works such as plaques given out to hospital workers upon retirement. He is a down-to-earth working man, who makes art for art’s own sake even while doing it as a profession.

And he loves his work. He doesn’t store his work in a warehouse or in stores, but in his own home. His upstairs is like its own museum of art, and not everything is for sale. One part of his collection is a row of three bronze statues—lovely sculptures of the human form about a foot in height. The theme of this collection? They’re all broken. Cracked, pieces missing, hollow and open to the world. He’s kept them because he feels that even though they didn’t turn out as they were meant to, the brokeness gives them a certain type of ethereal beauty. I agree with him.

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