By Rebecca Pikus
Peter Mikulak is an extraordinary Artist who went from a thriving Contracting business — to going belly-up & losing everything in the market crash — to becoming homeless — to reinventing himself through Digital Art, Drawing, Street Art, & Paintings — to arrive now as a beloved Palm Springs artist and an international Star in the Art World! What could be a better Rise-from-the-Ashes Phoenix story! His work is riveting, erotic, in-your-face, confrontational, intellectual, diverse & beautiful — all at the same time — & his colors & imagery are amazing.
Peter is originally from Bristol, Connecticut. He said of himself that he actually has always been an artist, and that the first person to take an interest in his talent was his Uncle Mark. At the age of 4, his uncle started to encourage him to use his talent by giving him small art assignments — he would come back around the house every few days to see how he did. Peter was always excited to show him the results and to win his approval.
Peter started doing murals as early as 13 years old, & his first mural was dedicated to a childhood friend who was killed by a drunk driver in a hit and run accident. That was the first time that Peter made the news and the front page of his local newspaper. Around that same time his father started taking him & his sisters on road trips to New York City. It was there that he saw chalk drawings all over the city…”street art” as he later learned it was called — and it would become his new passion. The artist’s name was Keith Haring, and he became the first artist that profoundly influenced his career. In high school Peter was always trying to get cans of spray paint so he could create art. He would pick up jean jackets from second hand stores and paint graffiti on the back and sell them for a few dollars. Thankfully, his high school art teacher, Ms. Bloomer, saw the potential in him and continued to nurture his raw talent. She had Peter enter an art show in his sophomore year & he won 3rd place. It was the first time he was recognized with an award from his peers. Then — his family moved all the way cross-country — to Palm Springs, Ca. in his junior year of high school, & so he missed out on a four year scholarship opportunity,
Although Peter did not have a formal education & is self-taught in art, it hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his dream as an artist. In his 20’s he continued to create art in his spare time, but Mikulak concentrated his time & efforts into having a family and building a General Contracting company. He completed new construction and rehabilitated distressed and foreclosed properties for over 10 years in the Connecticut area. When the real estate market bottomed out, he decided to pursue his art career full-time. “I thought if I’m going to struggle, I’m going to struggle doing something that I love. I woke up one morning and traded in my power tools for paint brushes and passionately started pursuing my art career. I donated all my belonging to the Salvation Army, packed a suitcase, and got on a bus and moved back to Palm Springs to become a professional artist.”
With no instruction manual to guide him, he quickly ran out of money and found himself homeless — living in the middle of the desert in an abandoned camper “dead center of a windmill field”. It was there Peter started to use “re-purpose” materials in his art. He nailed sheets of wallpaper and canvas that he would find behind buildings or in a dumpster to the side of a camper. This was how he created his first body of work that he later had the opportunity to show professionally, He started re-purposing all kinds of things– used pocketbooks, children’s rain boots that he could pick up for 50 cents at the second hand store, furniture or anything laying on the side of the road that had character that he could paint. Peter even used the door from an old washing machine as a canvas, and sold it at an art gallery!
Four years ago, Peter Mikulak had his first meeting with a gallery owner, Alan Long from Renegade Gallery in Palm Springs. He invited Peter to come in and show his work. Peter hitchhiked to the gallery with 10 framed paintings strapped to his back. By the end of the meeting Alan shook Peter’s hand, made him a resident artist in the gallery and introduced him to his new art family! It was there that Peter had his first successful professional show. Becoming a resident artist at Renegade was his real start as a professional artist, but his income was sporadic. An opportunity was about to present itself to Peter, but at the time he didn’t realize that some good intentions on his part were about to help open another door. While talking with one of his neighbors, he realized they had had nothing to eat for Thanksgiving, and Peter wanted to help them out. He was walking by the Forever Marilyn statue one day and thought: “I’ll do a portrait of Marilyn and sell it to get them a little money for a proper Thanksgiving dinner”. That was the experience that turned out to be an opportunity which led to a year-long career for Peter — selling over 700 Marilyn Monroe portraits at the statue’s site in Palm Springs. He sold Marilyn’s portraits all over town and to visitors far and wide. People would come over to introduce themselves to him — he was now famous!
While among us here in Palm Springs, Peter had the opportunity to sell his art through Ryan Campbell’s Scrap Gallery, then later through Renegade Gallery. He sells his artwork both in Galleries and accepts Commissions. David Gray, General Manager of the Hyatt Hotel, Palm Springs, commissioned Peter to create 3 Marilyn Monroe pieces for the hotel’s Lobby. He was further commissioned to paint 5 art pieces per room, for 3 Conference Rooms, of Sinatra’s Rat Pack! Additionally, Mikulak earned the opportunity to create a series of 4 pieces for The NestEggg Financial Group’s 3 locations: Palm Springs, Palm Desert, & Maui!
Peter Mikulak is currently back on the East Coast creating a new style of work with mixed media — including spray paint drawings, paint brush Photography and digital enhancements. He has started his latest body of work using these techniques in a series entitled “The Goddess” and Peter says: “it’s on FIRE!!
Peter Mikulak’s permanent Exhibition of his art can be seen at Renegade Gallery, 1345 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, Ca 92262 (760) 832-2030, www.therenegadeartgallery.com. Peter can be contacted through The Renegade Gallery, or at his Email address: email@example.com. Peter Mikulak is on Facebook, YouTube, and Pixoto. Also Fineartamerica.com/profiles/peter-mikulak.html, and Bluecanvas.com/mikulak