Existential Wonderings

RSVP for Exhibition Reception


These works reflect artist Mike Stilkey’s perusals and introspective explorations into the nature of existence. The images call into question the reality that we perceive and contrast our version of reality with the absurd. Drawing on the musings of philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, he pondered how seemingly inconsequential choices made in youth can be woven together to shape our paths throughout adulthood. If we live in a universe that is indifferent, objective, filled with absurdity, and devoid of meaning, we as humans can create meaning by observing our own actions and choices, and applying our own interpretations of these. This can help us make sense of the culmination of these earlier choices and assign meaning to the reality that we experience.

In other words, I have no idea what I’m doing.

“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”  -Umberto Eco

“Life has no meaning a priori… It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.” -Jean-Paul Sartre.

On display at the 1888 Center July 29 – August 22, 2018

RSVP for the 5:00 pm reception on Sunday, August 5th.
Credit: Mike Stilkey



Los Angeles native Mike Stilkey has always been attracted to painting and drawing not only on vintage paper, record covers and book pages, but on the books themselves. Using a mix of ink, colored pencil, paint and lacquer, Stilkey depicts a melancholic and at times a whimsical cast of characters inhabiting ambiguous spaces and narratives of fantasy and fairy tales. A lingering sense of loss and longing hints at emotional depth and draws the viewer into their introspective thrall with a mixture of capricious poetry, wit, and mystery. His work is reminiscent of Weimar-era German expressionism and his style has been described by some as capturing features of artists ranging from Edward Gorey to Egon Schiele.

His work has been exhibited throughout the United States as well as internationally, at galleries and museums such as the Bristol City Museum in the UK, Bakersfield Museum Of Art in Bakersfield, CA, Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, Mesa, AZ, Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco, CA, Kinsey/DesForges Gallery in Culver City, CA, David B. Smith Gallery in Denver, CO, Gilman Contemporary Gallery, Ketchum, ID, and Rice University Gallery, Houston, TX. He has also created numerous large-scale installations internationally, in Turin, Italy; Bern, Switzerland; Manila, Philippines; and Hong Kong and Beijing, China.