Artist Bio

Michael Acker, although born in New York City, has lived on the West Coast since childhood. His art is concerned with his physical location: its visual qualities and its natural and human history. His art is also grounded in the act of making both images and objects through the manipulation of tools and materials.

He is the recipient of two Pollock-Krasner grants and holds an MFA in sculpture from San Francisco State University, where he studied with Steve De Staebler. He was a founding builder of Burning Man.

In March of 2017 Arcadia Publishing released his “The Springs, Resort Towns of Sonoma Valley,” a photo-history.
He continues to add to his photo-collage series “Valley of the Moon Main Stem,” comprising current and historical images of a two mile stretch of street in his home town. He is also pursuing the possibilities of using the sewing machine as a collage tool, and the addition of electronic elements to his work.

Artist Statement

I love light, I love images and love to make and manipulate images. I am utterly fascinated by my immediate environment, built and natural. I can’t help but notice, and notice and notice; and record, and collect, and manipulate. My curiosity is endless. I detect the patterns in what I see and then I overlay my own patterns. All of these aspects play out in the imagery and techniques I use to make my art.

I developed my current technique of printing images on paper and then assembling them into larger works as a means to express my reaction to what I see and collect. I start with photographs, digital or scanned. Multiple photographs, from multiple angles and distances, are made into a composition in Photoshop. I then print the composition onto many pieces of water color paper, which I physically collage together and paint on. Subsequent prints are collaged over what is there, a kind of “over-painting,” resulting in a densely layered piece with three dimensional qualities. From a distance the work has a unity, but, on close inspection, reveals a rich field of seams and overlays, drips and water marks. Three levels of marks are usually evident: computer generated, paper edges, and those inherent in the photographs. It is often an eye-pleasing game to distinguish among them.

The whole works on several levels: as a composition, as a manipulation of paper and paint, as a distillation of an essence of the subject, and it teases the eye and mind with distortions of “obvious” images. My images are intended to make visible the many layers of information embedded within.

With visual art we receive, interpret, and create information that can be expressed in no other way. Art, for me is a continuous process of feedback in which I am constantly revealing new meaning to myself and re-incorporating it into new work. I am gratified when an audience finds this as interesting as I do.



2014 Palo Alto Art Center Residency, finalist
2012 Left Coast Annual Juror’s Exhibition Award, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, Ca. Michael Schwager, Juror
2011 Creative Capital, advanced to second round
2010 Pollok-Krasner Foundation grant
1992 California Works, Award of Merit
1994 SECA award semifinalist
1990 Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant


2013 Aptos Blue public art, finalist, Watsonville, Ca.
2010 “Water(ing) Logic(ally), Site-specific Garden Installation, Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma, Ca
2001 Emerald Glen Park, Dublin Ca public art, finalist
2001 Fountain, Creekside Court, Berkeley, Ca
2000 Emeryville Fire station public art finalist
2000 Fountain, Bayer Corp, Berkeley, Ca
1998 Fountain, private residence, Palo Alto, Ca
1997 Wavewall, Unique concrete wall, San Francisco (published in Landscape Architecture)
1993 Fountain, Filbert Court development, Oakland Ca
1992 Memorial Drinking Fountain, Oakland Hills fire area

Solo Shows:

2016Alley Gallery, Sonoma, Ca.
2013 Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, Ca.
2012 Sonoma community Center offices
2009 Sonoma Community Center, October
1992 The Clay Studio, San Francisco
1991 Seattle Pacific University Art
1989 Limn Gallery, San Francisco
1988 Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco
1987 Limn Gallery, San Francisco

Two Artist Show:

2014 Sonoma Community Center Staff Show
1999 Two Artists, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, Ca
1985 Jackson Street Gallery, Seattle, Wa

Group Shows (selected):

2017 Celebrate, Sonoma Arts Guild
2016 Left Coast Annual, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA
2015 Left Coast Annual, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA
2013 IMBY Sonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa
2012 Petaluma Arts Center, Digital Mixed Media. Joe Doyle, curator
2012 Left Coast Annual, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA. Michael Shwager juror
2012 Made In California, Brea Gallery, Brea, Ca.. Rebecca Morse, juror
2011 ACCI Gallery juried show, Berkeley
2011 Arts On Fire XV, Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, Ca.
2011 Works on/of Paper, Pacific Art League, Palo Alto
2011 Gallery Route One Juried Show
2010 Mapworks, Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, Ca
2009 Sonoma Valley Museum of Art Biennale. Frances McCormack, Juror
2008 Axis Gallery, Sacramento, Ca.
2006 Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival poster finalist
2001 Berkeley Art Center members’ show
2000 New Leaf Gallery Anniversary Show, Berkeley, Ca
1999 Arts On Fire, Sanchez Arts Center, Pacifica, CA
1997 Yerba Buena Sculpture Walk, San Francisco


Kaiser Permanente, 2009


June 17, 2010, Sonoma Index Tribune, article
August 14, 2009 Sonoma Index Tribune, interview
2000 Wavewall, Landscape Architecture Magazine

Special Projects:

2017 Publication of Photo History of the Resorts of Sonoma Valley. Arcadia Publishing
2015 The Springs Museum of History, Art and Community-in progress
2012 Lecture, Sonoma Valley Historical Society
2010 Mural for the Sonoma Valley Grange
2005 Landscape installation for designer Andy Cao at Cornerstone Gardens, Sonoma
2001 Selection committee, Sonoma Fire Station Public Art
1999 Designer and project manager, fountain rehab. Fremont Park Santa Rosa, Ca
1995 Sculpture for MTV Europe Awards
1993-95 Sets for ABC television stop motion show Bump In the Night
1988-89 Member, original Burning Man design/build team


MFA, San Francisco State University, 1989
1973 BA University of Oregon, painting, studies with Frank Okada
1979 studies with Jack Tworkow
1980 studies with Laddie John Dill
1989 MFA, Sculpture, SF State University, studies with Steven De Staebler
1998 Gallery Rt. One, Point Reyes Station, Ca
1998 Pacific Rim Sculpture Group, San Francisco
1998 SFMOMA Rental Gallery juried show, San Francisco
1998 New Leaf Gallery, Berkeley
1998 Watervsions 98, New Leaf Gallery, Berkeley
1998 Crocker-Kingsley Exhibition, Sacramento