Michael Kotel Bisbee is an artist born in California, raised in Massachusetts, and currently living in rural New Mexico after 28 years in New York. He works with sculpture, painting, photography and, to a lesser extent, video. He has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts / Mid-Atlantic Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and an Artist’s Space Project Grant. He participated in an artist’s residency at THE LAND/an art site in Mountainair, NM. (2010-11). His work can be found in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art Center for Art + Environment, Sydney and Frances Lewis Foundation, Creste Foundation and private and corporate collections. His solo exhibitions have been reviewed in ARTnews, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the Chicago Tribune, Other exhibitions have been reviewed in Welt am Sonntag, Washington Post and THE Magazine, among others.
Michael Bisbee’s professional art career can be divided into three periods to date:
The first period spans the years after he moved to New York City upon receiving his BFA at Boston University School for the Arts in 1978 to the point at which he closed his NYC studio in 1995. During this time he concentrated almost exclusively on increasingly abstract / formal painting and pursuing a conventional career by exhibiting primarily in commercial galleries in the NYC area but also Boston, Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The recession beginning in the early ‘90s diminished the viability of his studio practice and brought to a head frustrations with commercial representation at the time.
The second period spans the time when Michael Bisbee resided in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 1993-2006. While working at Marian Goodman Gallery (1995-99) he developed an interest in the work of the Arte Povera artists that Ms. Goodman represented, as well as the work of Richard Long and Gabriel Orozco. He also became interested in invisible authorship and undocumented interventions while making work almost exclusively in relationship to the Hudson River, often from a kayak. Bisbee’s primary concrete project was in the form of a long poetic work that referenced the Odyssey but used as the primary focus the journey of Ulysses S Grant as he journeyed up the Hudson to the place where he would write his memoirs and die. Most of the paintings made during this period were in the representational Hudson River School vein and were intended to act as punctuation to the text. The only abstract paintings from this period were made on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attack when the full impact of his experience the year before sank in.
The third (and present) phase of Michael Bisbee’s art career began with his 2006 move to Magdalena, New Mexico; a remote town of 900 that has been described as being “on the very edge of the middle of nowhere.” He had developed a business model (providing accounting, IT and HRservices to high-profile galleries and other arts related entities) that was not dependent on location. Once in New Mexico the need to create material and authored work re-emerged. Though repeatedly returning to painting as a base his practice has expanded to include digital photography and video as well as sculpture both in the studio and as Land Art. He has exhibited his current work nationally predominately in non-profit settings (2010-present). He has completed an artist’s residency at THE LAND/an art site in Mountainair, NM and had a large portion of the resulting work acquired by the Nevada Museum of Art Center for Art + Environment. He has also worked with New Mexico organizations to bring artists and arts entities to the Socorro County area for residencies and exhibits, as well as donating accounting services to local non-profits and serving as Chief of the local volunteer fire department.