1) Please introduce yourself! How would you describe yourself as an artist/creator?
My name is Michael John Zitka. Birds and folk art have always been my greatest loves. I consider myself a modern-day folk artist since I’m self-taught and I work with simple materials that are available at my local lumberyard or hardware store. My bird sculptures are made of pine, cut out using a band saw and then laminated using weatherproof glue. I then use a die grinder for shaping and a file for the finishing touches leaving a rough texture. The legs are made of 12-gauge wire and soldered at the base of the foot. The bird is then painted with a primer and finished with exterior latex house paint. As in the crow, the eye is a tack backed with a silver sequin that adds a whimsical sparkle.
2) Where are you from and how does this define you and your work?
I was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1951 one of five children. My father built every house we ever lived in and my mother was very much into sewing, painting and gardening. Of all the kids I was the most interested in art. In the early 1970 I began selling my birds in Gig Harbor at the Galleries Kennedy. In the1980 I moved to Seattle and began selling my birds at a shop called The Hat and the Heart.
As a child, I started out making sand pipers and decoys, which evolved into the birds I do today, the blue jay, woodpecker, robin and crow. I am particularly fond of crow, having had one as a pet and having plenty of experience with their spunkiness. I often display them with a ring or key since crows are noted for being attracted to shiny objects and hiding them in a spot known only to them. What I really love about my work is that the birds are versatile enough to work with antiques or modern contemporary setting alike.
This last year I have been making owls which I think will be very popular.
I would like to keep growing and learning and adding more birds to my collection.
All photographs by Megumi Shauna Arai