City Sketch: Micah Crandall-Bear


Micah Crandall-Bear calls himself an abstract painter by choice and a custom artist by necessity, teaming up with interior designers, architects and a network of other professionals in the hopes of securing commissions.
“Am I giving up artistic integrity? No. I am putting in my time and paying [the] rent,” says Crandall-Bear, 28, known on the local music scene as a vocalist and lead guitarist for The Athens.
For now, the rent goes to roomy quarters near the UC Davis Medical Center. Crandall-Bear’s studio is upstairs in a former sunroom with windows on three sides and a paint-splattered washing machine.
His dual drives are evident in the canvases along the studio’s walls: a naturalistic depiction of a Roseate Spoonbill wading bird unclaimed by a deadbeat client; a charcoal portrait he’s finishing up for pay; a mesmerizing abstraction in blue; and a moody self-portrait that the woman in his life finds disturbing. (The face is eyeless.)
Crandall-Bear was a teenager when he executed his first piece, tempera on plywood. A Sacramento City College assignment led him to the Michael Himovitz Gallery and, eventually, an internship with owner Chuck Miller. He learned how to hang and transport art and received good feedback on his own work. In fact, Miller negotiated Crandall-Bear’s first sale.
Now Crandall-Bear’s paintings hang all over town: in law offices, banks and other businesses as well as private homes. He hopes to continue to make his living this way. “I’m finding my stroke,” he says. “I still haven’t found my best work.”