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Ozzy Osbourne Pens Intro For Painter Michael Godard's New Book (6/26/2006)

Renaissance portraits at the Venetian? Ansel Adams at the Bellagio? If you're worried that art in Vegas is getting a bit, well, arty, then it's time to meet Michael Godard, rock star among painters.

Longhaired and tattooed, with a taste for leather clothes, he certainly looks like he could be the fifth member of Mötley Crüe. But although he does hang out with singer Vince Neil, not to mention Ozzy Osbourne, his greatest hits aren't composed of monster riffs and drum solos, but rather of his signature images of martini glasses and walking olives.

"Five years ago, I was in a costume in front of a log ride doing caricatures, and now I'm considered the Number 1-selling artist in the world," says Godard, who divides his time between Las Vegas and Southern California.

Godard's paintings, sold as limited-edition prints in galleries across the country (including the Desert Sun Art Gallery at Scottsdale Fashion Square), are homage to the vices of Sin City - drinking, gambling, cigars and sex. They are the 21st century's answer to dogs playing poker, with the ubiquitous olive character, kicking back on a tropical island or impersonating Jesus in The Last Martini, as his big gimmick.

"I kind of consider myself a visual comedian," he says, explaining that on "the olives in my world, the males have the pimento on top and females strategically placed on the bottom."

Except that he made his millions by painting instead of singing, Godard's story is the typical rags-to-riches tale of a struggling artist who stumbles on a hit. It happened at a low point, when his oldest daughter was ill with encephalitis.

"I didn't want to paint anymore. In fact, I didn't want to do anything anymore," he says. "And I ran into someone who said, 'Hey, you should just do something fun, a no-brainer,' and he happened to smoke cigars and drink martinis.

"So I did a martini picture with these little olives with arms and legs, it was called Olive Party, and I wrote a little poem with it. And that original sketch has a price tag on it of $50,000. It's on the back corner of a Thomas Kinkade calendar."

As soon as he got them into a gallery, Godard's originals and prints were snapped up by fun-loving customers who dug his sense of humor. Now, he lives in an exclusive Vegas enclave, where he fills his home with big-ticket toys, from a room filled with slot machines to the Lamborghini in the garage.

In addition to franchising his own Oh My Godard galleries in other cities, he sells merchandise from calendars ($6.49) to humidors ($425) on his Web site, michaelgodard.com. In August, he releases a book of his art titled Don't Drink and Draw, with an introduction by none other than Ozzy.

There's still a serious side to Godard - particularly now, because his daughter, now 16, has been diagnosed with brain cancer. Even as he focuses on his family, he also has been working to raise money for cancer research - and he continues to create his visual comedy.

"Painting's very therapeutic for me," he says. "It's happy art. It makes people feel good. It makes light with serious situations just because there is no place else to go."


Source: azcentral.com

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