You’ve done it a thousand times. It’s 3 a.m. You’re starving and Nunzio’s Pizza is open. Due to some small miracle, you stay awake long enough to have this beloved meat and cheese pie arrive at your door.
Before you drunkenly break bread, have you stopped to admire the beauty of a pizza? No, never! How many little fire emojis are on a mild sauce packet? You haven’t the slightest idea. That’s the difference between you and Mike Sobeck.
Mike is a local artist whose focus is on the things you’ve forced down your gullet before you’ve even taken a second to admire their beauty. Things like, Miller High Life, sauce packets, or the glory of cheese, sausage, pepperoni, peppers, and onions. To you, those things are fuel—a necessary evil to get you through the night. Pizza is a cheat day prize or that old friend you need to find your way to bed.
For Mike, that fuel is a muse. Pizza has an allure much like the shape of a woman. There’s some liberty taken in that statement, but how else can you explain why Mike took his classical art education from Ohio University and turned an almost accidentally discovered love of painting into inspired pizza-based art? Imagine a world where people have to stop and admire the beauty of the mundane. That is Mike Sobeck’s world.
Mike uses his art to convey feeling through realness that is undefinable and hilarious. The dichotomy of an oil painting of a piece of pizza is pure brilliance. Imagine historical pieces like Girl With a Pearl Earring, The Starry Night, and Mona Lisa. Oil on canvas was used to capture imagery from times we can no longer hear about firsthand. Those images help make up the substance of humankind. Now think of all the future generations of humanity looking fondly at A Piece of Edison’s Pizza in the Smithsonian.
Cleveland’s veritable Vincent van Dough started out like any other creative. He was in the wrong line of work. When Mike started school, all he wanted to do was graphic design, creating movie posters, advertisements, concert posters, and the like. He admittedly “was mediocre at best” when it came to graphic design. He wouldn’t find his passion until in his junior year, when he ended up in a real painting class—no computers, just oil and cloth.
Mike knew right away that he had natural skills, so he decided to step off the path of modern graphic art. His first painting was of LeBron James. He entered it into a show and it was stolen. People don’t steal bad art.
As he expended more effort into his painting projects, Mike figured out that graphic design was not his calling. After graduating, Mike had all the classic painting skills he needed. Now all he required was a subject that would mean more to people than a woman with a coy smile or some fruit ever could.
Even with all that talent, Mike was still burdened with the trials of a college graduate. He needed a job that allowed him to pursue his artistic passions while helping him pay the bills. Via hard work, talent, and good networking, Mike went from his day job at Happy Dog into his dream job. He now runs 3204 Studios, which houses the work of local creatives and lets them exhibit their work in a traditional gallery style.
Bringing local high art to Lorain Road is the start of something huge to come. He’s fully supported by art, be it studio work, freelance jobs, or an apprenticeship with another local artist, and that’s the way he wants to continue. He can’t imagine working retail or food service ever again, which has only boosted his desire and ability. The next logical move is more visibility.
Mike is a creative artist who, like all other artists, looked for a subject matter that would set him apart from the droves of artists before him and those yet to come. The idea of food as a subject is an old concept. Mike found a way to take items and food not traditionally thought of as art worthy and went inside the box for inspiration. Where you see Nunzio’s bubbly pizza, Mike Sobeck sees orange beauty.
Check out @Msobeck on IG for the latest work.
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James Earl Brassfield or simply JEB is a writer, podcast host, humorist, actor and “Black Hunter Thompson” type madman of no ill repute. Language has yet to evolve fully to describe his unique view of Northeast Ohio and the world. JEB produces work across all media with his original and clearly stated voice. @Jearlbrass