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A Word With a Spirited Artist 

At first glance, whimsical jeans-and-leather-clad artist Michael Godard seems like a rock star.

Chat with him, though, and you'll find out that Godard is really a wildly successful illustrator of humanized fruit, coffee beans and such. Imagine olives, complete with arms and legs, surfing, or strawberries, with high heels painted onto their feet, curled around a bottle of champagne. There are beer-inspired paintings, too. One titled "Beer Thirty" includes barley and hops characters, complete with extremities, chillin' on a tropical beach. Barley reclines against a palm tree while Hops hangs loose in a hammock. Near them, a cooler of sweating brewskies sits on the sand. An original of this on canvas is priced at $42,995 on eBay right now.

click to enlarge Michael Godard will be signing bottles at the downtown Crown Liquors store Jan. 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. - COURTESY OF MICHAEL GODARD
  • Courtesy of Michael Godard
  • Michael Godard will be signing bottles at the downtown Crown Liquors store Jan. 30 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

In Indy tonight to launch his line of gin and vodka, Godard, who has appeared on HBO's "Cathouse: The Series," A&E's "Inked" and the reality series "American Casino," also is helping raise money for the Indianapolis-based charity the Caroline Symmes Endowment for Pediatric Cancer Research.

From 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., he'll appear at a public bottle-singing and tasting event at Crown Liquors, 150 N. Delaware St. Later, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., he'll attend at a private charity event at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, where two of his paintings will be auctioned.

Before making his rounds in Indy, Godard was cool enough to answer a few questions for Sky Blue Window:

Sky Blue Window: We hear your work is collected by celebrities. Who owns your pieces?

Michael Goddard: I like to think my work is enjoyed by all types of people, from children who enjoy drawing strawberries as ballerinas, to retired doctors who still enjoy the days of Sinatra when the martini was the drink of the day. I've worked with many celebrities from Carroll Shelby (auto designer, race car driver and entrepreneur) to, recently, icon Michael Jordan.

SBW: From a quick Internet search, we noticed your "Beer Thirty" piece is selling for $42,995 on eBay. Is that the highest price you've seen connected to your work?

MG: The most expensive painting I've sold was 32-square feet and sold for just shy of $500,000 to a client in Monaco.

click to enlarge Michael Godard humanizes a variety of produce, including hops and barley, as seen in this "Beer Thirty" illustration. - MICHAEL GODARD
  • Michael Godard
  • Michael Godard humanizes a variety of produce, including hops and barley, as seen in this "Beer Thirty" illustration.

SBW: Can you tell us a bit about the medium you use and some of the projects you've done for various clients?

MG: I think variety keeps my career exciting. I work with all types of mediums from oils to acrylics, and experiment with many diverse techniques from airbrush to finger painting. Most recently, I've designed some guitars for the band Guns N' Roses, painted a grand piano, a huge sculpture for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, album covers, etcetera.

SBW: Some of the produce in your prints seem to live a pretty sweet life. How on earth do you come up with those images?

MG: Life is very diverse. I find inspiration in everything in life, real and imagined.

SBW: So how many times is one of your paintings reproduced anyway?

MG: As far as the reproduction process, it is just as diverse from one-of-a-kind themed editions of 50 to an album cover, which potentially can be reproduced hundreds of thousands of times.

SBW: Looks like you love rock and roll. Who are your favorite artists?

MG: Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses and Chris Cornell to mellow music like Journey.

SBW: So you're into ink. Do you have your own drawings tattooed onto your body? If so, which ones and where?

MG: I drew all the individual elements in my tattoos then left it to the artist to decide how it should all fit together.

click to enlarge "When my playful olives first struck a chord with the public it couldn't have been better timing," says Godard, whose depictions of the salty green treats helped finance his daughter's medical treatments. - "PERFECT ZEN" MICHAEL GODARD
  • "Perfect Zen" Michael Godard
  • "When my playful olives first struck a chord with the public it couldn't have been better timing," says Godard, whose depictions of the salty green treats helped finance his daughter's medical treatments.

SBW: Reports about you say that you first started drawing olives when your daughter, Paige (who suffered from cancer and died at age 16 in 2006) was ill. Is she the inspiration for your art career?

MG: When my playful olives first struck a chord with the public it couldn't have been better timing and allowed her the type of medical care I would not have been able to afford otherwise. Paige will continue to inspire my life forever. We all learn so much when tragedy comes to our doorstep. It gives you instant clarity on what's truly important in life.

SBW: What can people expect if they stop in to see you at Crown Liquors after work this afternoon?

MG: Complete Euphoria. (He laughs.) You need to come and visit to find out!

SBW: Speaking of liquors. We've gotta ask - what's your favorite cocktail? And how many olives, if any?

MG: I don't limit my drinking to alcohol. There's been more than one occasion a stubborn paint bottle has exploded as I tried to open it with my teeth.

SBW: You'll be doing a private event in a racing shop this evening. Wondering if you're a racing fan and, if so, which series?

MG: I had the honor of attending the Indianapolis 500 at the 100th anniversary with my friend (two-time Indy 500 winner) Al Unser Jr. It was awesome. It was like attending with a royal. I met many drivers and got behind the scenes. I really love cars, and although I appreciate the world going to hybrid, I still enjoy a big gas-guzzling muscle car.

SBW: Looks like you spend most of your time in warm climates. It's unusually cold in Indianapolis this winter. Are you taking any precautions -- like buying a coat? Where will you be coming from when you fly to Indy?

MG: I'll be leaving from my home in Las Vegas. I'm no stranger to winter weather, though. I have at least one tour a year in Edmonton. I enjoy it! My wife's the one that likes blankets.

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Cathy Kightlinger

Cathy Kightlinger

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The first 20 years of Cathy Kightlinger’s career were spent as a newspaper reporter and columnist, so she is new to freelance writing. In her most recent role as The Indianapolis Star’s social columnist, Cathy wrote about fascinating people and parties, big and small. Fabulous shoes and contemporary art make her... more

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