February 23rd, 2010 - Cape May, NJ
A Chat With...
Exit Zero's own residetn artist, Mike DeMusz... Interview by Vicky Samselski
ASK ANY young girls in town, whether shopping or just roaming, who their favorite celebrity lookalike is, and they’ll probably steer you to Mike DeMusz. It’s interesting because we here at the EZ headquarters know Mike to be an excellent artist, a devoted father, and a genuine sweetheart to work with (or be stuck in a three-day seminar in Philadelphia with, but that’s another story entirely). So when we think of Mike, we usually think “fine artist” or “fine friend” or maybe “rotten speller” or something along those lines.
Ask the girls what they think of Mike? In a squeal that can be heard by dogs in space, they respond “Orlando Blooooooom!”
So, yeah. He looks like Orlando Bloom. Got it. He certainly knows it: at least 20 people a day tell him so whenever he fills in at the Exit Zero store on Perry Street (where he’s sort of like the unoficial manager) and also whenever he has to fill in as delivery guy (which seems to happen a lot, too) and additionally whenever he is “selected” to go and pick up lunch for all of us (basically a daily happening). Perhaps no one else on staff is so visually present on the streets of Cape May. Which may have more than a few of you asking: “Who is this guy?” Because Mike is really, really shy.
I know, right? Beauty is wasted on all the wrong people.
For those of you who maybe didn’t pick up on this fact: Mike is our resident artist. And he’s pretty damn good at it, too. So, since he sits about 10 feet away from me, and there’s really no excuse he could come up with to weasel his way out of it, we sat down to chat.
EZ: How many freaking jobs do you have at this paper, Mike?
Mike: Um... painting, the Pennywise ad, running the store, matting and framing all the prints, all the photo orders, uhhh... whatever else comes up. But basically my real job is to come here and paint.
EZ: How long have you been painting?
Mike: I started painting seriously when I was about 20. I have always drawn, I used to do a lot more pen and ink. Like Pennywise, but obviously different type of stuff. I don’t know. Is this how you interview people?
EZ: No, I’m nicer to strangers. Talk more. What’s the best part of this job?
Mike: Freedom, basically. Freedom to create.
EZ: What part of “talk more” didn’t you understand... okay, so what do you do when you’re not painting?
Mike: Can’t you just answer it for me? You know all this stuff already.
EZ: No, Mike, that’s called “lying.”
Mike: Me and Natalia [Mike’s six-year old daughter] hang out, play, swim, and soon I’ll teach her to paint. If I ever get my new studio finished. Shouldn’t you ask me who influenced me, what I’m inspired by?
EZ: Do you want to do this yourself? Who inspired you?
Mike: I’m inspired by Dali, Van Gogh, and Michaelangelo. You see, the three of them – Dali was so good at creating the abnormal, Van Gogh had such pure love of art, and Michaelangelo was so meticulous about his work – and if you put all three together, you’ve got the perfect artist.
EZ: That’s so deep, Mike. You’re a deep guy. Where are you from?
Mike: [Sighs] Here. Where do I plan on staying? Here.
EZ: Where do you get your ideas from, oh sage?
Mike: From the deepest realms of my soul! Um, or... just my imagination. What else can we talk about?
EZ: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Mike: Oh my god. Are you serious? What would they be surprised by... I’m afraid to have a one-man show. Being the center of interest. I’m not really afraid of failure, but I dunno... I don’t like talking in front of people. I love for people to see my art, but I don’t like being the center of attention. I can’t talk in front of them if they are actually interested in it, it’s just too... When I have to talk, forget it.
EZ: Got it. We’ll all agree to leave the public speaking to Jack, I think.
Mike: Yeah. Let him do it.
EZ: Where did you go to school?
Mike: I went to college for a year in Lancaster, at the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design. It was too expensive to go back, so I worked with my uncle. We should put his name in: he’s Brian DeMusz, and he’s a sign painter. I learned a lot from him while I was getting paid, instead of paying to learn. Pretty cool.
EZ: When do you paint?
Mike: Every day.
EZ: No, I mean what’s your schedule or when do you do it?
Mike: I paint less in the summertime because of how busy everything is. Ow!
Mike: It bit me! A ladybug bit me!
EZ: It was a sexy nibble. She thinks you look like Orlando Bloom. What’s coming up for you in the very near future that you should be promoting, Mike?
Mike: Art in the Park! That’s coming up on July 28th. This is the very first year of it and it’s being organized by Diane Flanagan and that whole West Cape May gang. It’ll be in Wilbraham Park on the 28th. I just had a show on the promenade, and then in September I have another show at the mall. That one is my favorite because it’s in the fall. It’s my favorite time of yea. I mean, I love the other times, too – but I love fall the most. It’s the perfect time of year to live in Cape May because the humidity drops but the water is warm, and the skies are so crisp, the stars are brighter. The air feels so – actually, today is a bit like a fall day, if the sun weren’t so hot. But I don’t know, there’s something so beautiful about it.
EZ: Mmm. Yeah.
Mike: You know what I’m doing when I’m not painting? I’m thinking about painting. I’m always trying to come up with a new idea. Jason [Black, EZ ad guy] called me last night and just said, “Look up. Paint that!” So I took a picture of the cloud formation on my cellphone and painted it when I got home. I can’t wait to show it to this guy next to me who had this big tripod and fancy camera, and he was so proud. I was like, “Yeah, but I’ll have a painting of it by tomorrow.” He said “Really?” So I told him to come to the store tonight to see it. Man, I really hope he comes.
EZ: Before I let you go back to work; what do you think of all this “Orlando Bloom” stuff?
Mike: What, that I look like him?
Mike: Well... I’m not gonna deny it.