Sum of its Arts

By Seth Combs

For Michael James Armstrong, weekly dinners with his fellow artist friends started out as just a way to get together and discuss art. “Every Sunday night, we would meet at Cafe Bassam in Downtown and talk,” says Armstrong. “Along the way, we’ve done a few group shows together, but other than that, we’ve all pretty much been on our own separate paths.” Five years later, they’re on a path together. Recently opened in the heart of North Park, Ice Gallery is a space created by artists for artists. Armstrong, along with his dinner pals Joseph Huppert, Lee Lavy and Thomas DeMello, have breathed new life into the neighborhood’s art scene with solo shows showcasing their respective new work.

“Each of the artists is responsible for executing his own show, but the others chip in any way they can,” Armstrong says. “We do have a few artists that we’d like to have shows with. We’re also contemplating doing a group show with just the four of us at some point next year.”

Armstrong has worked in graffiti-influenced spray paint art and most recently in light installation work, but he’s planning to use a new medium for his show at Ice, which opens December 4.

“It’ll be an installation that will involve changing the inside and outside of the space, and will look like nothing I’ve ever done before,” Armstrong says. “I’m just having fun putting on shows with my friends. If my show fails, well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Obviously, I don’t anticipate that happening.”