It's long overdue, but David Mikelsons
is the latest Panas alum to be featured by the Panther Press.
One only has to see some of his water color work to understand
what caught our attention.
David grew up half the time with his
mom and the other half with his Dad in both Continental
Village and Mohegan Lake. While he played tennis with the
Panas team during his sophomore year, his enjoyment of sports
was found mostly in outside activities like skiing and skateboarding.
He and Tom Ruehli (90) spent much of their time on
the half pipe that they built in his backyard. Back then
he used to hang out with friends Joe Carbone, Mike Carney,
John Gee, Jason Rasmus, Evan Otruba, Jessica Howard, Melanie
Matsuyama, Angela McBride, and Josh Bloom.
Not unlike others who are artistically
predisposed, David led a fairly solitary life while in his
high school years at Panas. Not the kind of guy you would
likely see competing for Homecoming King, David immersed
himself in his artwork. While academically an honors student,
he was much more interested in things like small engine
repair and his beloved art classes.
"Art was the best thing I remember
about Panas. I skipped classes to paint. There was nowhere
in my life that I felt so safe and free," David says.
"I could do whatever I wanted with a canvass. Every
brush stroke was intoxicating. I took photography, watercolors,
drawing, and the best of all was painting."
David particularly remembers his art
teachers Joan Hayes and Harrier Saddow. Noting the influence
they had on his work, David explains, "A good art teacher
teaches more than the basic techniques needed for a medium.
Technique means little when trying to create art. It's all
in what you've got to say, how you say it, how eloquent
The idea of going off to college after
high school seemed both unimportant and all together too
stressful for David. He decided instead to get an apartment
in Poughkeepsie and attend Dutchess Community College, where
he began to grow as an artist. Learning figure drawing,
photography, watercolors and sculpture, things started to
come together for David. He soon realized that his artwork
could be well served through education.
His passion for skiing eventually brought
him to the ski capital of the country, Colorado. Since being
there he has made a hobby of taking to the mountains; he
has climbed four that are over 14,000 feet. Since moving
to Colorado, David has also added mountain biking and snow
boarding to his sports repertoire.
Over the last eight years David has
been working at Kinkos, most recently as the technology
manager. He has since moved to the Pacific Northwest, now
living on the Olympic Peninsula in Chimacum, WA. There he
is working on his art.
"I [have] started asking myself
questions like, who am I and where am
I going? The answers told me everything. They were
a little scary. I am an artist and how does that fit into
the American dream? Where will I get my SUV, big house,
and stock portfolio? I wont. It doesnt matter.
The only thing that matters is knowing who you are and striving
to be more like him or her."
David is still close with Josh Bloom
who is a music promoter in New York City. He also recently
gotten back in touch with Melanie Matsuyama who herself
is an artist. David hasnt been back to his old stomping
grounds since 1995. Hopefully, we'll see him at the Walter
Panas 30th Anniversary Celebration August 30, 2003.
You can find much of Davids work
on his website: www.davidmikelsons.com. David is a fine
example of the creative tradition that can be found at Walter
Panas High School. We wish him future success in his artistic