Page 74 - March2017

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hen local artist Mike Quinn was
growing up in Southern California’s
Topanga Canyon (Malibu’s funky, hippie
cousin), he was a magnet for stray
animals. “Topanga Canyon, especially back then
before it boomed, was this freewheeling, easy place
with good vibes, and dogs and cats just roamed around,”
Quinn says. “Anytime a stray would follow me around, I’d
take it home. My mother would always say, ‘OK, where did
you get it?’ But what I really wanted was an ocelot.”
Topanga’s bohemian ethos, where rugged mountains cast
shadows over lazy creeks and the scent of pine co-mingles with
salty surf, helped set the stage
for Quinn’s unconventional life
as a professional sculptor.
Quinn was born Christmas Day,
1966, the fourth of five boys to a
professional apparel pattern maker and
an aerospace engineer. Though his parents were
conservative in comparison to their neighbors, they encouraged their son’s
imagination and unbridled zest for life.
“Many of our neighbors were artists of one type or another: musicians,
actors, and a lot of hippies. They sold organic vegan before it was
Quinn says. “Our
neighbors, the
Doolins, had
a custom tile
business that’s
really successful now.
The dad, James Doolin,
was a teacher at UCLA and
a well-known painter. I spent
a lot of afternoons down at the
Doolins, making different creatures
from clay. My first creation was a
California King snake coil pot. I’d also make
shrunken heads that were mounted to the
wall on a plaque.”
When he was in high school, his parents
decided to split up, and Quinn and a
younger brother moved to Texas to live with an
uncle in Seabrook, Texas, while his parents sorted out
the dissolution of their marital union. The cowboy
vibe of the Lone Star State helped fuel Quinn’s
untamed spirit, and when an innocent prank got him
Joy to the Fishes
By Donna Gable Hatch
74 |
MARCH 2017