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From Parade to Palette

A Look into the Life of Alex Fedirko

Local artist Alex Fedirko has always had a love and passion for creating art and says that “I’ve always been good at art.” He can remember being in Kindergarten at St. Paul Catholic School cutting circles out of squares and mixing colors with the ink blotters and thinking how amazing it felt to be creating art projects. From an early age, his teachers were very encouraging and he said that “I think that’s one of the coolest things about the Grosse Pointe School System, be it private or public, is the support that the art gets in every single school.” In the structured learning environment from St. Paul, Kindergarten through 5th grade, then Brownell for 6th-8th, where Alex mentioned that his teacher Ms. Rose was fantastic, and then graduating from Grosse Pointe South; he felt that he had the support from his great art teachers to cultivate his natural gifts and talent in art.

After high school, Alex attended the University of Michigan where he received two degrees. He has his BS in Architecture and his BA in Fine art, focusing on drawing, painting and sculpture. Upon graduating, he moved in with his parents for 2 years where he created artwork in their basement. He used this period of time to transition to the “real world” as well as to build up his portfolio so he could have more of his work to show.  

Two years after he graduated from college, he got a job in Chicago with an art and design firm. He moved to Chicago and found an art loft studio apartment in which to live. It was a 1,000-square-foot shoebox with 15-foot ceilings, your typical artist loft that had a shared bathroom with everyone in the hallway. But he says he was lucky enough to have running water in his studio, which was a big thing to have!

How the neighborhood worked was they would have something called 2nd Fridays, where every 2nd Friday of the month you could open up your studio to the public. As a collective, thirty to forty artists within a four-block radius would open up their studios to the public. Alex would have anywhere from fifty to eight hundred people coming through his studio to look at his artwork. The life of an artist isn’t what he thought it would be, he shared that “I graduated from college and I think I’m going to be this great artist and everything is going to come so easy to me. Because I’m this really talented person, and I have a great degree from a school. I’m going to be selling pieces of art for thousands of dollars and it’s going to be so easy. But it wasn’t! It was really hard!” When his work wasn’t flying off the shelves, it only pushed him to work even harder.

Alex ended up living there for six years, the first of which he had his job at the art and design firm, and the other five years as a full-time artist. This period of time was a great learning experience that helped him get comfortable with sharing his work to the public, as well as being able to take criticism without taking offense.

During his third year in Chicago, he was published in a national and international publication called New American Painting; which if you’re a painter it’s “the” publication to get your work into. Out of thousands of artists who submitted their work, he was one of the twenty-five artists lucky enough to get chosen for the publication. This accomplishment was a huge stepping stone for him professionally. He felt that it validated his work and what he was doing, he felt accepted by the art world. Which naturally led to him receiving more sales, commissions and art shows. The first big exhibition was held in the lobby of the Sears Tower, and the other showing was in the lobby of the American Medical Association.

After his six-year adventure in Chicago, he grew tired of sharing a bathroom, plus he met Martha at one of his 2nd Friday art shows. One thing led to another and the next thing you know they were dating and in a serious relationship. They both decided that it was now time to move back home to Grosse Pointe.

His first year back in Grosse Pointe, he really focused on getting his name out into the community. He was commissioned by Renee Janovski, who was the auction chair for the Action Auction for the Grosse Pointe Academy. He donated one of his paintings for the live portion of the auction, and even completed a portion of the painting live at the event. Renee was so pleased with his painting that she made sure that her bid was the highest of the evening.

Another event that Alex was asked to donate his art was at the Historical Society Ball. They rented out the Fillmore Downtown where he painted live on-stage in full tuxedo. Paul W. Smith was the emcee of the show and the two had great fun making jokes back and forth about if he would be able to finish the painting in time before the end of the auction. It was another great event where he was able to help bring in a lot of money for the Historical Society.

He also donated one of his paintings to the Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education auction. It’s so important to Alex to give back to this community that has been so supportive of him and his artwork.

The largest show that he has ever been invited to be the featured artist was at the home of Rob and Mary Lubera, who own the modern home on Grosse Pointe Boulevard. Every year they throw a party called Arts, Beats and Eats where they pick one artist to come and take over their house and display/showcase their art. Alex was allowed the opportunity to hang his paintings all over their walls, thirty to forty pieces in total. The most amazing part he said was that they even allowed him to put screw holes into their walls. The event was extremely successful, he had sales, it was great PR, and he met a ton of people from the community. Alex said that he is beyond grateful to the Lubera’s for their support and for giving him such an amazing experience.

Most of his art is in the style of abstract expressionism, with a little bit of photorealism, and slight impressionism. His inspiration comes from the ready-made built environment that surrounds us. He’s a big fan of cityscapes, architecture and nature. He said, “This is so beautiful, I want to paint it.” His paintings are truly a part of his soul!

In the year 2000, Alex first began working for The Parade Company during the summers as a freelance artist. Fast forward to when he moved back to Grosse Pointe, he went back to work for them again as a freelance artist. About a year later, the position for the assistant art director became available, he applied and was given the job, which he has now held for five years. His job description as art director include the engineering and design of the floats, come up with the schematics and the blueprints for the designs, aid in fabrication and completion of all the floats. On average, he creates about four floats a year. Working with Ford, Quicken, DTE, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and of course their major sponsor, Art Van; working with these clients to help bring their vision to life on parade day.

It’s a tremendous amount of work creating for this massive parade, but also fun and rewarding to apply everything that he learned at school. He said that he works with a super talented team of ten to twenty-five artists with varied backgrounds from theatrical to major display. “It’s a lot of fun to work with a team and create stuff versus creating alone in his studio, float production is far more social.”

When asked what advice he would give to young aspiring artists, he said “Work on your technical skills, work on your drawing and painting skills and also learn another aspect of creating such as metalwork or carpentry. The more you know how to make the better off you are. If you go to art school, take advantage of all the facilities that they have and get connected with the networks that they have, so you can also understand the business aspect of the art world. And go out and show your artwork any place that you can. Just know that you’re making something for people to enjoy. Just keep working on stuff and don’t quit!”

Currently, Alex is living in Grosse Pointe Park with his beautiful wife Martha, and adorable daughters Olivia 5, Josephine 3, and baby No. 3 who is due in June. His family is his greatest masterpiece!

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