by Golden C. Smith

Once a mathematician dressed in a 3 piece suit working 9-5, Michael Godard is now considered the “Rockstar of the Art World”. Mr. Godard’s art has taken him around the globe, giving him the platform he now uses to share his story and empower unique individuals.

“It’s not really an option. It’s an obligation because I feel like it’s my [responsibility].” Growing up with a father who suffered from a rare muscular disease always lodged the instinct to help others in the back of his mind.

Photo by Jacqueline Romano /
Michael Godard in Wentworth Gallery, Short Hills

Resilience and persistence is key to Michael. As he was getting started in his career as an artist, countless galleries kept turning him down. “Most galleries don’t want to talk to you because they don’t know who you are.”

 

“When I did these olive [paintings], the first time I went to a gallery the curator said, ‘I’m really not interested.’ I had 8 paintings with me that weekend and took them all in to be viewed. This potential client walked in and goes, ‘Oh my gosh, what’s that?’ The gallery curator was like, ‘let’s leave it here for the weekend’.”

Photo Courtesy of Michael Godard

On Monday when Michael returned, the gallery owner said, “I sold all your paintings this weekend. You’re staying with me.”

“I worked really hard. I worked 24/7… In 2 years, I went from being in 10 galleries to being in close to four, five hundred, and things just started happening for me.”

Michael makes regular appearances at galleries across the globe. His work can be found at a number of Wentworth Gallery locations, one of the first to feature his artwork, across the Eastern part of the United States. Directly connecting with collectors and fans of his work gives Michael a chance to bring new meaning to his pieces.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Godard

Sitting down with Michael, he recounted his backstory and struggles that made him real, made him human, made him relatable. A troubled upbringing did not keep him from being the ideal father to his daughters. Even while struggling through a financial crisis prior to his art career, he made sure that his girls were taken care of and that they didn’t notice his state of hardship. At one point he was sleeping in his car and when they’d come to visit on the weekend, he’d use any money he had to get a hotel room to shelter them from the reality of his current predicament. Michael’s journey highlights how hard work and maintaining a positive attitude can bring you out of astronomically challenging situations.

Photo by Jacqueline Romano /
Michael Godard in Wentworth Gallery, Short Hills

What distinguishes Michael from others is his ability to see roadblocks as motivation. No matter the circumstance, he has used them to fuel his work, not only as an artist, but more importantly, his work as a humanitarian impacting the lives of others he encounters on a day-to-day basis.

“I must survive the triggers and deal with the reality around me.”

Mr. Godard lost his daughter early on to brain cancer. He openly discussed his challenges with losing his child and his close loved ones, and how he manages to see light at the darkest of times. Michael is thankful that his father was able to pass before his daughter did, because although a different form of grief, it provided him with a tool kit necessary to get him through his daughter’s death.

He remarks that no one ever fully heals, but rather that grief comes in waves throughout life. Sitting here writing this, chills run down my leg thinking of just how warm Michael remains, despite the cards life has dealt him, and his ability to take his struggles and manifest them into tangible means to help others.

“I got through things and then can help others from there.”

He remarks that no one ever fully heals, but rather that grief comes in waves throughout life. Sitting here writing this, chills run down my leg thinking of just how warm Michael remains, despite the cards life has dealt him, and his ability to take his struggles and manifest them into tangible means to help others.

Michael believes in ultimate transparency. When filming a documentary on his life, he advised his family to be completely transparent in the interviews. He says, “We shouldn’t change who we are. People can either like or dislike the realness.”

As Michael’s documentary was being released, he had to step away from promoting it, in order to prioritize his daughter’s health. Despite suggestions on how to handle entering and leaving the hospital with press and photographers, Michael’s single focus was his daughter’s well-being; the money related to public relations was the last thing on his mind.

Godard shared a story about an encounter with a fan of his that really touched my heart. A woman walked into his gallery to show him a tattoo she had gotten while desperately seeking to grasp onto any reason to live another day while in a time of complete despair, struggling to stay alive as she contemplates suicide. The tattoo, inspired by artwork he designed for an album cover, had managed to give someone the light and hope to push through her suicidal thoughts and inspired her reclaim her life.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Godard

“She told me, ‘this painting literally saved my life’.”

The artwork represents Michael’s daughter, who he painted into an angel holding a dying rose.

“This woman says, ‘I saw the painting, and I thought, if that little angel can hang onto something that is dying, something to hold on to, then I need to fight harder and hold onto something no matter what I have, no matter how small it is right now, I’m going to hang on to this and I’m going to make it.’”

“You never know just how much a piece of art you create can touch someone’s life. I was just a guy who was doing an album cover for somebody and that interaction with this woman gave that painting so much more meaning.”

Michael shared that his artwork often provides one of his fans with golden moments during warfare.

“I received some pictures from a gentleman in the air force who served in the Middle East. He sent me a picture, probably 12 years ago, that now hangs in my bathroom. I look at it every single day. He had tagged some blown apart artillery with my little stick man olive design. It’s a reminder to me everyday the purpose of my artwork. This is someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father, and he’s got bullets whizzing by him everyday.”

Photo Courtesy of Michael Godard

A lot of Michael’s work reflects his light-hearted nature and personality, full of laughter and humor. His artwork transports him out of his reality and takes him to an indescribable place. Discussing his painting of little olives dancing on a stripper pole, he says is silliness. His paintings are designed to make people laugh. His hope for those who purchase his artwork is that the paintings bring happiness and humor into their homes. He takes his own experiences and puts them into his paintings. When asked why, he remarks, “Because that’s what I know and that’s what my truth is. Sometimes I like to fantasize that I’m an olive or I’m a grape and I imagine my world as this inanimate object and that’s the artistic part.”

“The funny thing about artwork… when I’m doing a painting, I really don’t think about who the person is who’s going to like or enjoy it.” Michael reminds us that you never know just how your work can impact an individual’s life. My father always told me you always have a reason to get out of bed each morning – to make someone smile.

When discussing what keeps him centered, Michael reflects on his relationship with spirituality and karma. The energy you put into the universe certainly comes back to you. In recounting one of his stories, I learned one of Michael’s friends was about to lose everything she had and he made a promise to this friend that he would take care of her. It just so happened that a few days before this woman asked for $5000 to help save her home, her car, her everything, he had left the casino with winnings of the exact same amount. He took hold of Karma in this scenario and used that money to help his friend get back on her feet. He comments, “I figure that everything lines up for a reason and the way it’s supposed to be.”

Photo Courtesy of Michael Godard /
Collector Ozzy Osborne, left, with Michael Godard

At first glance, Michael Godard looks like a tough rock-n-roll star who’s been around the block a time or two. Just a few minutes into talking with him, you encounter his warm nature and bright energy that just radiates positivity. He’s beyond grateful for his talent as an artist and his ability to utilize creativity as an outlet, as a vehicle to fulfill his “obligation” to helping others. Michael is a pure epitome of how your work as an artist, no matter what your medium, can transform not only your own life, but also those around you.

“The stage I set on my canvas can be anything. Hopefully it will bring people into some place they’ve never been to before.”

To meet Michael Godard at one of his gallery shows, visit http://wentworthgallery.com/show_schedule.html

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