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World travel inspires artist Arteaga
Athens native's work on display at Inman Perk in Gainesville
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Michael Arteaga shakes a can of paint before painting a portion of a mural Friday in Gainesville. Arteaga, who grew up in Athens, has traveled all over the world painting murals. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Local artist Michael Arteaga is no stranger to travel.

The 33-year-old artist was born in Athens and grew up living with his mother’s family in North Georgia and his father’s family in Ecuador. His treks between North and South America made him enamored with the beauty of the world around him.

But after living abroad and traveling around the world, choosing a favorite place is less about where he is but who he is with.

“It’s usually more about people I’m around,” Arteaga said. “Family is great. Friends are great. I have family everywhere, now sort of friends everywhere, so that’s really nice.” Arteaga said.

Therefore, he has several favorite places for different reasons.

“(It’s) sometimes cities and food and sometimes nature and just that beauty that you get with it,” Arteaga said.

The beauty the artist has seen is now available for all to view. His work is on display at Inman Perk on the downtown square in Gainesville.

Arteaga said he looks for opportunities to inspire the community through his work or encouraging others when he is in Gainesville and Hall County.

“I’d like to stimulate more people to be productive, to make things, to make beautiful things with others or for others, both,” Arteaga said.

Inspiration for him comes in many forms, from the sketches he is working on and a painting he hasn’t finished to his surroundings.

“I see a wall, or any surface or thing, like anybody,” Arteaga said. “This table here, you can see the textures of the history of it. Not just that it was finished, but you can see that it’s been used a lot, and I think that use is really beautiful.”

Painting a door multiple times throughout the years can create a different kind of beauty, he said.

“Over 80 years you have a really beautiful door,” Arteaga said. “To paint on that is much more precious than a piece of paper.”

Arteaga’s favorite medium is whatever happens to be in front of him. With a wide array of techniques and tools, he knows his way around a canvas. Acrylic paint is one of his favorites, but not restricted by paper or canvas. He loves creating murals using spray paint on the larger scale.

“I would just like to do some art for people around here,” Arteaga said. “I imagine there are a bunch of walls that are bare, and wouldn’t that be beautiful (after being painted).”

Sadly, Arteaga thinks one of the cruelest injustices is the “nose to the grind culture.” He said society is so busy running around that often the most meaningful parts of life are forgotten.

“We think of (art) as an investment in the future or something,” Arteaga said. “I think sometimes we forget that it is an investment also in the now.”

Too many people take the positive effects of having a piece of art in the home for granted. Arteaga believes at the very least, the colors in the home affect the mood.

“Often in our living spaces we shut ourselves out, with our TV or with our blinds,” he said. “It’s good to have these bright happy shapes and colors and symbols and things.”

In Arteaga’s opinion everyone should have access to art, not have it restricted with high price tags. Whether it’s a piece of art purchased from a local artist or a piece of one’s own creation, he believes adding a little creativity to life is a positive thing.

“If you start caring about yourself and your environment, it just gets better,” he said. “It’s the opposite of being depressed right. Be happy, don’t worry, be happy, something like that.”

Caring about others and being happy for Arteaga translates into him encouraging others by teaching art classes at the Hall County Boys & Girls Clubs. He tells them to express themselves in their art and not be afraid.

“Just do it,” he said. “If an elephant gets a paint brush and paints, and little children (can do it), so can everybody else.”

And Arteaga doesn’t let his fear stop him from expressing himself. He believes no one else should either.

“Creativity is a wonderful force,” he said. “It’s super healthy. It’s good for your neighborhood and your happiness.”

To see Arteaga’s work, visit his website, www.loaf.es.

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