Artist on Artist: Michael Rieger on Pablo Picasso

Our first artist in our Artist on Artist series is Michael Rieger, a professional photographer, artist, and community arts activist for more than 20 years. His work as a historical photographer for FEMA covers such events as the World Trade Center terrorist attack of September 2011, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2013 Colorado floods. He also works as art director for the Denver Chalk Art Festival and is part owner of Lapis Studio & Gallery in Denver. His work has been shown in many galleries, festivals, and museums throughout the country, including the National Museum of American History.

DAM: Who is your favorite artist featured in Modern Masters and why?

Michael Rieger: Pablo Picasso. I love the energy and breath of his work from paintings and drawings to ceramics.

DAM: What is your personal artwork like?

Rieger: I am a professional artist working in many different mediums. I have a BFA in photography and a BFA in ceramics from the University of Colorado, Boulder. I love working images through many different mediums, creating new works of art along the way. So I take a photo, then translate it into a drawing, then it gets abstracted on to a hand-carved ceramic tile. Picasso exemplified this creative work flow of making art.

DAM: How does Picasso influence you and your work today?

Rieger: Last year, I did a yearlong photo project inspired by a quote by Pablo Picasso: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” This was the quote that inspired these images, a photo a day. Decisive moments happen every day all around us. The idea of this project is to capture those details of daily life. To see things that we pass over or stop seeing as we go about our daily routines. For this project is about keeping the creative eye open, tuned and working. With this in mind I posted a new photo every day throughout 2013. To see all the images go here. There will be a gallery show at Lapis Gallery with all 365 images later this year and there will be a signed and numbered limited-edition book, too.

Update: Some of the images referred to in this blog post have been removed following the close of Modern Masters at the Denver Art Museum. Please visit the Albright-Knox Art Gallery website to find the related artworks. This appeared on this post while the exhibition was open:

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), La Toilette, 1906. Oil on canvas; 59-1/2 x 39 in. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Fellows for Life Fund, 1926. © 2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

All other images are courtesy of Michael Rieger at