The cover of Out & About Nashville’s special Pride edition this year was painted by local artist Trevor Mikula in his increasingly well-known style, featuring a rainbow of pets (his own included) in every shape and size, representing the diversity of the community that Pride brings together. The vibrancy and bright colors you see in our cover reflect Trevor’s outlook and his hope for our community’s gathering.
“I was trying to think of something fun,” Trevor explained. “Obviously Pride started in a not-fun way, but given the political environment right now, people need a little more excitement, fun, and support in their lives. I think it kind of speaks to the idea that we can all be together as a community, as different as everybody is, and be proud of each other and have a good time.”
Trevor’s artistic vision has been developing since his childhood in rural Tennessee. “I’ve always painted,” Trevor said. “I grew up in this strange house where we never had a TV. We were forced to be creative, we were always outside, always making things.”
Though he studied art in college, Mikula did not focus on painting. “I studied graphic design at Nashville Tech,” Trevor explained, “but I’m a self-taught painter.”
After spending most of his life in the rural Spring Hill area and Nashville, Trevor expanded his reach by making a bold relocation. “I moved to Provincetown for three-and-a-half years and opened a little gallery and studio space there,” he said, adding, “It was a cool time and I picked up clients I never would have met here. It’s just a whole different demographic, a lot of the gay clientele where it’s double income, people are there on vacation buying art from all over the world.”
Economics, however, brought Trevor home to Nashville. “I just moved back here a little over a year-and-a-half ago… Cape Cod is not cheap! It was great—but it’s a really short season there so you have to make a lot of money during that time…”
When asked about why he thought his paintings have become so popular, Trevor laughed. “Because of my dog! He’s in most of them,” he joked. “I’ve just always worked super hard to get stuff out and available, and obviously now with social media it’s a lot easier. I’ve been painting full-time for fifteen years so … it’s still selling for nothing but…”
“It’s funny seeing my stuff in offices and in children’s hospitals,” he said. “I know there are some in Sloan Kettering in New York, the Phoenix Children’s Hospital has five or six pieces. It’s just been an interesting ride, with that and collectors—seeing where things end up.”
Some collectors have amassed quite the collection of Trevor’s works. “I recently had a show in Scottsdale, and one lady came in and she had a list. She’s bought forty-six pieces. And she’s like, ‘My husband’s over there, because he doesn’t want to see what I’m buying next!’ So yeah there are a lot of people who are pretty excited by it.”
Between shows and selling in familiar galleries, Trevor keeps busy. “I just finished three shows, one in Scottsdale, one in Chattanooga, and then a show here in Belle Meade,” he explained. “In Chattanooga it was an outdoor festival called Four Bridges, a yearly festival that features like 160 artists. It’s a juried show, so you have a booth. Here it was the Harding Academy show, a benefit for the art program at the school. Right now I’m just chilling, but the season is starting in P-town for the summer so I’ll be shipping stuff back up there.”
The original painting featured on our cover will be sold, the proceeds going to support a local charity near and dear to Trevor’s heart. “As an artist it’s difficult to know where you stand and to put things into perspective. Orlando profoundly affected my life and made me realize that everything might just be here for a second. This is something I can do—I don’t have a ton of money to give back to the community but this is a way I can give back and hopefully raise money. I’m donating the proceeds of this painting to the Just Us program at the Oasis Center.”
While Trevor has never been in the position of the kids he wants to help, he has had issues with his religious family, particularly in the aftermath of the last year’s political upheaval. “I have an identical twin—he and his wife are awesome—but the rest of my family is pretty crazy right now,” he explained. “I came out in my early twenties. But this whole year has been really weird because some political talk has led to us not being able to speak about [LGBT issues] which is a ridiculous thing to me. I understand disagreeing with people but not about who they are so to me this year it’s especially important and it’s sad… I don’t know how people can look at someone and not love and appreciate them for who they are.”
“I’ve been talking with Pam Sheffer there,” he added, “and she took me on a tour of the center, and it’s an amazing thing. I can’t imagine not having any support system as a child and being thrown out of the house, so to me it’s extremely important to help those people. I feel sorry for the staff sometimes, the people in the trenches who have to fight these battles 24/7 without any reprieve. I think it’s a really important charity we should all get behind.”
So this year at Pride, come by and check out Trevor’s painting, and maybe take it home with you. Help the kids and show your pride.