2024 Festival Art Created by Grand Rapids Artist

January 12, 2024

We are proud to share that Grand-Rapids based illustrator, painter, and ceramicist Michael Pfleghaar is the artist behind the abstract piano art for the 2024 Gilmore International Piano Festival. Michael often depicts botanicals and still lifes, imbuing them with abstract elements and flattened space to create new perspectives. 

An influence of mid-century modern design can be seen in the clean lines, balance, and organic materials he returns to within his compositions. Pfleghaar’s art has been featured in Architectural Digest and American Craft magazines; Apple, Haworth, and the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts have used his artwork for illustrations; and his art is in the permanent collections at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Steelcase Inc., Herman Miller, the State of Michigan and Grand Valley State University.

“My assignment in creating the 2024 Gilmore International Piano Festival artwork was to create an abstract image which referenced the piano without being literal,” says Pfleghaar. “The original acrylic painting “Sound and Vision” was the result of a series of digital drawing sketches presented to The Gilmore during the design process. I was inspired by the way light reflects off of the glossy grand piano surface and illustrating music coming from its sound board.”

Born in Toledo, he grew up in Petoskey, attending art classes from a young age. After high school, Pfleghaar moved to Grand Rapids and studied at Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University. He earned an MFA in Visual Arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University College of Art and Design. In 2023, Pfleghaar was one of four artists chosen to have their work permanently installed as terrazzo floor designs at the Gerald R Ford International Airport. He described his artistic style to Rise Art in 2022:

“My artistic style lies somewhere between abstraction and realism…and my goal is to combine the two opposing artistic styles into a unique visual language characterized by flattened space and exaggerated color. Modern design is also an influence in my work as it seems to follow a similar visual aesthetic and material for subject matter.” 

“My influences vary from old school painters such as Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard. Contemporaries like David Hockney, Jonas Wood, Paul Wackers, Nathalie du Pasquier, Carrie Moyer, Amy Sillman and modernist designers such as Ettore Sottsass, Charles and Ray Eames, and Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.”

Learn more about Michael Pfleghaar and see several examples of his work at pfleghaar.com.

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