By Angela Romeo

Art has always had the power to move people. Raising funds for a cause is no exception. December 7-10 new paintings, Abstracts by Mark Heger, Strange Little People by Christopher Michael will be exhibited at Colliding Worlds Fine Art Gallery. A portion of the sales of the artwork will benefit Desert AIDS Project.

When I was approached to host the exhibition, there was never a doubt in my mind. The Gallery is not taking percentage of sales because I am very familiar with the work DAP does. Like many of the Valley’s nonprofits, the money raised stays here to help our residents.

I am also familiar with Christopher Michael and his work. Chris’ work is a blast of color wrought with emotion. “I find it difficult to write about my art. My paintings are colorful, emotional, an outgrowth of my inner life, my addiction and recovery, my feelings, aging, death, love, life, constant changing position in society and a warped but view of the world within and without,” said Christopher. “I have found my emotions, especially the last year, to be highly flammable and best expressed in my art. My technique has changed, it is readily apparent in the People collection; sometimes showing my joy, elation, and sometimes depression, sadness, grief and joy.”

It is the vulnerability that makes Christopher’s work stand out. “I am a gay artist painting. I don’t believe, outside of erotica, that there is a gay art sensibility. My art is gay because I am. My use of imagery and color, perhaps, but I’m not the first artist, gay or straight, to use intense color. I think being a gay man, and one slightly over 70, influences what I paint and the intensity of my art. I try to not let the outside world influence my art. I start each piece with only the vaguest of ideas and let the art take me where it wants to go.”

That art can express when words fail is power. That art can transform our inner thoughts and manifest them in a tangible form is beauty. “My art, I hope, crosses social, religious, political lines in its deepest search for spirituality. Or the essence of spirit ‘Who am I? What am I? Why?’ These are not questions I take lightly. I have over the decades explored the superficial aspects of my life through my art. As I age, as I realize the closing strictures on my life, my art attempts to pull forth my feelings, thoughts and desires of the moment, in the hopes of getting one step closer to whatever lies beyond,” continued Chris.

“But ultimately art must speak for itself,” said Chris. “I firmly believe art should speak for itself. If not, then I’m in the wrong medium. Tomes have been written detailing the minutia of details surrounding every classic painting, but painting is visual and each viewer needs to take away with him or herself, the essence of what my art is for them. My expression is mine. The viewer’s interpretation is theirs alone.”

Colliding Worlds Fine Art Gallery is located at 68-895 Perez Rd., I 13, Cathedral City CA.