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MIKE CACIOPPO: Happy Accidents

  • 31 Jan 2019
  • 14 Apr 2019
  • Art Museum of Southeast Texas

Mike Cacioppo, Family Portrait, 2016, watercolor, 19 x 13 in., Collection of the Artist


On View January 31 – April 14, 2019

Opening Reception 2-4 p.m., Sunday, February 10, 2019

Join AMSET for MIKE CACIOPPO: Happy Accidents, a Café Arts Series Exhibition. 


Artist Statement

“Happy accidents” is a term used by my watercolor professor, Robert O’Neil. He knew that beginner watercolorists are afraid to make "mistakes." He made us realize that even though watercolor may be difficult to control, if accidents happen, they can enhance the work and therefore be “happy accidents.” Most of the works in this exhibition are products of a “happy accident.” I normally start by wetting the paper and applying paint; I primarily use the “wet on wet” technique. I like the fluid results it produces and the blending of colors on the paper. It is fast paced, immediate and exciting, resulting in an explosion of color.

Having initially learned oil painting, I approach watercolor from a different perspective. Many times, my first attempt does not achieve the results desired. I later wash off the top layer of paint, which yields wet paper and a patina of underlying colors. I then apply wet paints onto the surface. Sometimes this process is repeated as many as three times until I receive the desired results. The objectives of the painting may change, but it is the end result that is important. 

All of my landscape paintings are created outside, en plein air, at the Tyrrell Park Garden Center. I am grateful to Doug Oldbury and the staff at the garden for creating an inspiring environment. Painting in the park is always a winner for me. Even if the painting does not turn out well, I have had a nice day in the peaceful park setting while meeting friendly people.

During my working years I did not have the time or energy to paint. After retirement, I decided to get back into art and focus on landscape painting – nature has a story to tell regardless of the season. The color of trees constantly changes over the course of the year, transitioning with the new greens of spring or the chilling blue colds of winter. I appreciate the cloud shapes and colors that set the mood of a work. I love capturing the peaceful moments as dusk approaches with nature’s last intense burst of light and color.  

When I retired, I returned to watercolor painting. The best advice came from my college buddy and art educator friend, Jamie Paul Kessler. He told me to “enjoy myself.” Over the last four years I have enjoyed myself while continuing to learn my craft in an effort to produce good art.

Artist Biography

I am a Beaumont native. My favorite year of school was kindergarten with Mrs. Bartmess who introduced me to drawing, coloring, finger painting and clay. In 6th grade, my aunt, Rosalie Cacioppo, paid for me to take oil painting lessons. From that time on I progressed on my own until the last two years of high school when Ms. Linda Hebert was my art instructor. I graduated from Lamar University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science in Fine Art. While enrolled at Lamar, I studied under Professors Robert O’Neil, Robert Madden and Jerry Newman. My biggest influence was my art history professor, Dr. Lynne Lokensgard, who developed my aesthetic. 

I attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana where I received my Master of Arts in Geography-Urban Planning in 1978. I worked in urban planning for a few years until the downturn in the 1980’s economy. Most people do not know me as an artist, but as a retail clerk. I was involved in small family retail businesses for over thirty years, including my family’s business, until my retirement in 2014. Over the past ten years, I have traveled to Europe to see many of the things I studied in college. The combination of travel, volunteering at St. Anthony Cathedral Basilica and an ongoing learning experience in art has made for an enjoyable retirement with family and friends. 


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