By Taylor Barrett & Max Wellman
Mitch Sander is a talented Bozeman artist who creates his work in several mediums, from drawing, painting, and spray-painting, to wire wrapping and wood burning–he’s multifaceted. No matter what he’s working with, Sander strives to produce maximal quality. He frequently portrays natural environments and wildlife with color blends and geometric shapes, creating an abstract look at the real world. Primarily influenced by natural features and the complex patterns and shapes within, Sander’s art rarely depicts elements of civilized society, which lends itself to his personality.
Sander grew up in North Dakota and moved to Bozeman in 2010 after graduating from high school and working full time in Bismarck for about a year. He told us that growing up in North Dakota was a good experience, but as the city grew from the oil boom, Bismarck began to feel less like home. Sander’s then relocated and found a new home: Bozeman, a city that he finds conducive to his artistic process.
These days, Sander’s art usually focuses on aspects of the environment most of us in Montana can identify with–mountains, rivers, and the wildlife that populates the wilderness, themes that Sander started working with after he moved to Montana. He enjoyed all of the new landscapes that Montana had to offer, and it wasn’t until moving to Bozeman that he started painting. He told us that “the new location and scenery brought [him] more inspiration” than the landscape he grew up in, which helped him expand his artist style and form.
Sander’s first art display was in Bozeman, titled “I Hate Cats”, which represented felines behaving like humans. Afterward, he started displaying his original character as well, an anamorphic white blob, both of which pull a strong influence from artist Luke Chueh’s work. When it comes to painting and drawing, Chueh is a big influence for Sander. Everything from color blending techniques to character development, all helped create Sander’s own unique style. He also referenced Rachel Pohl as one of his favorite local artists, saying that her work was “pretty next level.”
Sander said that although Bozeman locals tend to prefer realism, his abstract paintings are also well received. There’s a common theme running in Sander’s work, representing human aspects in non-human subjects. This strays from pop-Montana art that depicts rugged landscapes and wildlife, but it still gets at the root of what it means to be Montana: a connection with nature.
Once established as an artist, Sander began to broaden his art with different styles and mediums, such as spray painting, wire wrapping, and wood burning. Having multiple mediums to work with allowed Sander to explore more of his artistic interests. He felt that he never “got stuck in a rut” when there are always more options for creativity. Telling us “there is always room to evolve, expand, and learn.”
When it comes to wire wrapping and wood burning, Sander was influenced strongly by geometric figures and elements of nature. The idea of wire wrapping stemmed from both the glass blowing and music festival scene. After seeing his friends’ wire-wrapped pendants, Sander figured he would try it for himself.
To no surprise, Sander’s skills were well matched for creating not only amazing wire wrapped pendants and rings, but geometric designs on wood. His commitment for excellence allowed for superior quality pieces with geometric features that would seem physically impossible to create. Of all the different styles of art, he said that wire wrapping was the most meditative due the amount of focus that it required: “[Wire wrapping] makes me feel more like an engineer than an artist.”
Sander started in wood work due to the desire of creating something to display crystals and and wire-wrapped jewelry. The results are quite astonishing, displaying many different intricate shapes: all of which include original configurations of geometry. Not only are the patterns unique, but the precision of the wood burning and cuts are seemingly perfect.
No matter what type of art it is, Sander is strongly inspired by nature and different animals and elements of our environment. Whether it’s painting, spray painting, wire wrapping, or wood burning, his art displays excellence throughout. The ability to decide between different styles allows for him to collaborate with multiple types of artists, including Lisa Lord, a mirror mosaic, Griffin Foster, a spray paint artist, and other local Bozeman artists, leaving him with endless possibilities.
Sander’s work is currently displayed at Delicious Bakery, including a display of acrylic paintings that includes various animals and color designs. Stop by downtown on Wilson and Babcock St. to see his work in person. Sander’s spray paint art will also be on display at 406 Brewing starting in November.