In a very short time frame, five years to be exact, artist Michael Tegland has made his mark on the regional art scene from Omaha to Kearney. Teglands darkly intricate graphite drawings on panel made their first positive impression in the annual auction of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in 2008, followed by two successful exhibits at RNG Gallery in 2012 and Modern Arts Midtown in 2013. Then a year later, his career as a full time artist enjoyed its first peak in a solo show at the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney as part of the institutions Nebraska Now series. In addition, his work has been twice honored by the Omaha Entertainment and Arts organization and is now part of the private collection of the Sheldon Museum of Art.
Teglands academic training began in the 70s at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, particularly under the mentorship of artist/professor Peter Hill whom he credits for his developing aesthetic of geometric and organic shapes and patterns. Though he has benefited from a state academic connection, UNO, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (Sheldon) and the University of Nebraska at Kearney (MONA), equally influential was Teglands 30-year stint as Chief Preparator at Joslyn Art Museum. The artist credits this experience in art management, conservation and handling priceless pieces of art at Joslyn, as well as at museums and galleries across America and Europe, for the delicate attention to detail appreciated in his work.
Now represented by MAM Gallery in Omaha, Tegland has two objectives, one immediate, one long term. First, he has begun to explore 3D carving and modeling of his signature marks, lines and shapes while introducing color in his familiar black on black abstraction. And though he has fully emerged as a Nebraska artist, it is his long-term goal to become part of national private and public collections.
For a self-described daydreamer, artist Michael Tegland has a firm grasp on reality when it comes to his work. A former museum preparator, Teglands experience allowed him to do what many viewers wish they could do, which is, handle the art intimately. Handling work allowed me to know it uniquely, the process, the marks, the strokes. Sometimes, you even saw the fingerprints of the artist.
Teglands fingerprints are all over his textural, graphite drawings via intricate etching and cross-hatching on matte black surfaces. He believes his art to be a combination of my wondering mind and my hand connecting to a thought and then scribing it. His sense of wonder is deeply rooted in several cultural influences, especially his own Norse and Germanic past. This may account for his works black on black palette and images of both obscure and familiar figures embedded or flowing in a web of geometric patterns.
His aesthetic illustrates a preference for ebony which expresses his desire to explore a darker side of myself, meaning his mythic heritage and a more personal introspection. It also reflects a surface as multi-faceted and mercurial as Teglands own musing and meandering. His impossibly meticulous mark-making, as well as tonal variations from clay to metal, invite one to explore the exterior as both mirror and window.
Initially, his imagery varies from Celtic runes and Maori tattoos to lunar landscapes and extra-terrestrial crop circles. Closer engagement reveals within this cool abstraction a more particular iconography of anchors, masks, birds and boats. These and other motifs of identity and navigation are how Tegland connects to a reality as grounded and shape-shifting as his art.