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 Julio Micheli  (1937 - )

About: Julio Micheli


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Lived/Active: Florida/California / Puerto Rico      Known for: watercolor painting, serigraphy, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Son of Don Julio A. Micheli Micheli and Doña Zoilín Lebron Rosado, Julio was born in August of 1937, in the old Hospital Doctor Pila in Ponce, Puerto Rico. For a time he lived in various rented houses in the Mariani sector of Ponce until 1944, when he moves to a magnificent concrete house, in the Art Deco style, which had been built for his parents. That year his only sister, Lourdes Milagros, was born. His father had a book and magazine store.

During his school years, English, Mathematics and Science, specially Biology, were his favorite subjects. Even though he was not a bookworm, he had little interest in school sports but, in the company of his neighborhood friends, would enjoy the fun of competitive events: roller skates, bicycling, track races, and baseball. All of these took place on the street or empty lots.

After graduating from high school he enrolled at the College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts of the University of Puerto Rico (today, RUM) to pursue a career in electrical engineering. He completed the first school year with good grades, but quit the program during his second year. A year after that, dissatisfied with the engineering curriculum, he traveled to Florida and enrolls at the University of Miami to pursue studies in architectural engineering. His interest in the arts had become stronger the year he was away from school.

It was in Miami and Coral Gables that he discovers a world that until now was unknown to him: theater, art cinema, concerts and art exhibits. In his free time he meets artists, reads a lot on art and attempts to paint pictures. One of his student friends convinced Julio to submit for evaluation some of his paintings and drawings to the art department of the University. Recommendation of the art faculty is positive. As a result, Julio quits engineering studies and begins his formal art education. Even though he prefers studio art, he decides to go into commercial art, convinced that financially it is a better alternative.

During the summers he would return to Ponce, and in the summer of 1961, one year before graduation, after many years of courtship, he marries Ramonita (Mona, Monín, Monina) Ruiz Torres. They settles in Coral Gables and Julio continued his studies.  Close to the conclusion of the academic year Julio decided to continue graduate studies toward a master’s degree in painting, with the intention of combining teaching with his studio production. This is the first time he was interested in teaching, and it is due to the role model presented to him by one of the art instructors, who was a good friend.

Full of hope and uncertainties, with hardly any savings and some help from the family, Julio and Mona traveled to California, thanks to a scholarship Claremont Graduate University had awarded him. The next three years in the Claremont environment went very well. Two weeks after arriving in Claremont they had secured a room and board job at Pomona College and a short while later Mona had a job. All looked good, they made new friends and Julio was sure of his art, considering that by this time he has already won two art prizes in professional shows and has presented two one-man art exhibits.

Their first two children, Nilsen Ricardo and Dara Teresa are born. Shortly before graduation, Julio began looking for a university teaching position, preferably in the southwestern United States. He is surprised when he is offered a teaching position in the, recently created, Department of Fine Arts of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, in Ponce, his hometown. The family returns to Ponce, and Julio begins his teaching job, which included designing practically all studio courses.

The next few years he devoted his time to teaching, his art and his family. He worked in painting and serigraphy, and sent his works to exhibits and art competitive shows. He obtained honorable mentions for his serigraphs, and was awarded first prize in painting in two art shows.

The family continues to grow thru the years as Diana Isabel, Manuel Alejandro, Sary Teresa, Arturo José and Charyn Juliana are born. During those years Julio revives his interests in biology, nature, plants and animals, specially birds and insects. On weekends and during the summer the family embarks on trips to the beach, countryside and forests. These outings, besides being recreation, also complement the children’s education in matters of environment, fauna and flora.

Julio’s interest in insects grows and he started a collection. He went on collecting trips in the company of his older sons, Nilsen and Manuel, although they were still very young. The boys collected butterflies while Julio concentrates on the beetles.

In 1968 Julio presented an exhibit of his serigraphs at RUM. He meets Stuart J. Ramos, in charge of cultural affairs and art exhibits, and eventually met his father, Don José A. Ramos, who was Dean of Graduate Studies at the Institution. It is Don José who motivates Julio to enter the world of entomology, specially the taxonomy of Puerto Rican beetles. From that moment on, his insect collection and research become much more important in Julio’s world, and he begins to learn entomology through books. In the summer of 1980 he traveled to Washington, D.C. to study the beetle collection housed in the Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution. At that time he decides to add scientific research to his daily work, and plans to publish the results of his research.

During the following ten years he scarcely exhibited, but he continued to work on his cajas, now that he has sidelined painting. At home, gradually the children finished high school and continue their university education. Today they are adults, professionals, and all show the results of the example and teachings received from their parents in the areas of culture, art, music and the environment.

Julio’s creative work has always involved at least two different artistic media. In 1985 he began to work in watercolors, partly as a substitute for serigraphy, a medium he had abandoned for health reasons. In 1990, a good friend, Don Nestor Murray-Irizarry asked Julio to present an exhibition at La Casa Paoli, in Ponce. This was one of Julio’s most important exhibits.

In 1998 he quits his teaching job and retired with the rank of full professor. With lots of time to devote to art and entomology he is working intensely on various projects. At present, after many years of work and research, he is about to complete a book and is also planing his next art exhibit.

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Julio Micheli is a painter, graphic artist, sculptor, draftsman, watercolorist, educator and entomologist. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami, Florida, and a Masters in Fine Arts from Claremont University, California.

He has received awards in painting and printmaking. His works are defined by shapes and ambiguous spaces, which oftentimes represent a challenge to the viewer.


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