reckless optimism


As a small town arts writer, I don’t get much opportunity to swan around Chateau Marmont in L.A. interviewing transcendently talented new artists and writers. But who needs that when I do get to have snowboarder-legend-turned-fine-artist Mikey Parillo stop by my office on his way to a phone interview with ESPN.

Currently one of the most commercially successful fine artists based in Jackson, Parillo flies under the radar in his home town. That may be changing with the phenomenal success of his November show, Reckless Optimism, that saw four large paintings go to Jackson collectors. The entire show sold out virtually before it opened in Los Angeles and online.

“People respond to the color and the happiness in the paintings,” Parillo said. “But they also see there is something more going on there.”

That “something” is the intensity of Parillo’s potent imagery. Themes of success and failure collide, often within one beating heart. In some paintings the heart imagery is literal, like “Happily Ever After”:


In other paintings, the heart is more of a pulsing mass swirling into – or out of – a center, as in “Living the Dream”:


Parillo turned 40 last month, and it’s been a powerful passage, filled with both personal heartbreak and a major watershed moment in his art career. In addition to its enthusiastic reception by viewers and collectors, Reckless Optimism was featured in Juxapoz, and Parillo was profiled in Frequency (the first time that magazine ever used art rather than a snowboarding photo for its cover). Now, Parillo is planning a long dreamed-of move to Los Angeles in June to paint full-time.

With time and age has come the humbling wisdom that dreams and fantasies are essential to a creative, authentic life, and, yet, grabbing on too tight to some dreams can lead us astray. This paradox reverberates through Reckless Optimism. The paintings involve layers of lust, beauty, bling, shadow, and enlightenment opening up and folding in on themselves – all contained within sweeping, uniform backdrops.

“All I know is that balance exists as my only universal absolute,” Parillo said. “I do my best to embrace the bad times because an equally powerful positive is right around the corner.”

2 Comments on “reckless optimism

  1. Wow, these images really grab me! Particularly the bottom two works, ~~~ they relay a soaring optimism, and what imagination. Love his fluidity!

    ps: Greetings from the Nutmeg State!

    • Thanks so much for commenting, Tammy! When you get back to Jackson, you might want to contact Asymbol and take a look at the prints they are doing of some of these paintings. Seeing them on paper/canvas is all the more impressive.

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