Artist mines memories for inspiration, nostalgia

March 17, 2016 1:23 PM

Toy images help art enthusiasts relive childhood

Michael Sacramento has been an artist since living in Manila, Philippines. He says one major difference between Oakland and his home were the typhoons that he saw as a waterpark of fun as a child. The floods that overtook the streets were not places blocked off to frolicking children; he vividly recalls slipping, sliding and swimming in them. He lived with one brother and two half-siblings, mother, father and grandparents. It’s just that playful spirit that infuses his traditional, yet contemporary work
​30​ years later. His work was recently exhibited at the Oakland Cultural Arts Center in Chinatown over the lunar New Year.


Oakland artist Michael Sacramento proudly holds up one of his pieces while some of his colorful paintings fill up the wall behind him.

His work continues to make progress located at Fourth Street Fine Arts in Berkeley with some 15 other artists who also own the studio as well.
Sacramento was lucky to forge a mentor relationship with Jamie Brunson, an arts teacher through his studies at California College of the Arts in 2002. UC Berkeley had awarded him two grants so that he could attend an art practicum called, “Taking the Leap.“
Bernadette Tuason, voice-over actor said that what initially intrigues fans of Sacramento’s art is his magically nostalgic subject matter that makes one feel the joy of toys from a long time ago, such as the Voltus V, which depicts a Transformer cherished by many boys from the Philippines.
“I like the playfulness of his art,” Tuason said, “I’m happy to have purchased this treasure for my husband’s birthday.”
Sacramento earned his bachelor of arts at Cal State Northridge and went on to study fine art at a master level at San Francisco State University. Of his experience at SFSU he said, “It shaped a lot of who I am now. Working there with the incredible teachers helped me define myself as a traditional painter.” This doesn’t limit his work to only paintings, however, as his urban gallery shows he is well versed in creating collages from computer-generated images, coated with metallic color and then layered with acrylic, oil and other paints to create altogether original portraits.
Face Painting

At Sacramento’s gallery on 4th Street, a community member participates in a face painting activity.

One philosophy Sacramento internalized from painting with his mentors is keep doing the work and it may be interesting and surprising what kinds of inspiration will come to the artist who keeps painting.
He likens it to a beginning musician who may want to produce a great song but given a sustained effort on scales, there will be an ability to create a greater song later. Of all amazing art influences, Sacramento says the two that impressed him the most were Wayne Thiebaud and Edward Hopper.
He likes Thiebaud because he has a knack for taking ordinary objects, like donuts, and turning them into a catalyst for joy.
Of Hopper, he said he enjoys the way the artist rendered a feeling of melancholy or longing for a past that can engulf any colorful landscape.
Sacramento’s goals now include mastering his craft to further improve his self-expression and being a good father. Sacramento invites anyone to come visit his studio and gallery on 4th Street.

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