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Featured Artist: Michael Peschka
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"H.H. Michael David Peschka, A.A., I.P.P.

Austin native Michael Peschka has been drawing from the age of three and was first exhibited at the age of eleven at the prestigious Laguna Gloria Art Museum, now the Austin Museum of Art. He attended Westlake High school, graduating in 1976. After High School, Michael moved to Los Angeles where he joined the Beverly Hills Art League and met the painter Anthony Casay who became a strong influence.

After returning to Texas in 1977 Michael studied art history at Austin Community College and fine arts at the University of Texas under Dr. Gabrielle Yablonsky, former artist-in-residence to the King of Bhutan. The next year, 1978, Michael met Countess Caja Palffy ab Erdod who had just opened an art gallery on Congress Avenue. On their first meeting Countess Palffy invited Mr. Peschka to her gallery where she showed him a photograph of a painting. “Michael, what can you tell me about this painting?” she asked, eyeing him carefully.

“Well, it’s a Gaugin…”

“Yes, it is. It belonged to my aunt Gladys who was Duchess of Marlborough. But what else do you see?”

Michael looked again at the photograph, then looked into the ice-blue, piercing eyes of this intelligent woman. “It’s backwards.”

The Countess was stunned. “How could you know that? I mean, NO ONE has ever guessed that! You see, this photograph was printed from a slide and the printer made this photograph from the wrong side of the slide.”

From that moment on the nineteen year old young man and the fifty-four year old Countess from Europe became the closest of friends despite the 35 year age difference between them. Very soon Michael was working in the Palffy Gallery every day and soaking up the environment, and the art as well as listening intently to the stories of art and royalty that had comprised so much of the Countess’s life.

In 1981 Countess Palffy called Michael at home and said, “Look, Michael, you have to go to Europe.”

“I do?”

“Yes, you do, and you have to go in three months. I have arranged it already: you will stay with my ex-husband Silvano Valtorta-Ceroni in Brussels and you are going to apprentice under the portrait painter to King Baudouin of Belgium. It’s all worked out. Come to the gallery tomorrow and we will begin your French lessons.”

Three months later Michael found himself in the atelier of the maitre, Albert Schollaert, portrait painter to the King of Belgium. He studied portrait painting and art restoration, concluding his apprenticeship by restoring a School of Rafael painting of the Madonna and Child with St. John.

After returning to Texas Michael continued to paint portraits but friends got him into designing and painting theater sets and backdrops. This trained him to work on a large scale which eventually led him to begin painting large commercial murals around Austin. Michael’s murals can be seen at Maria’s Taco Xpress, Baby Acapulco, the Treehouse Italian Grill, Rocco’s Grill in Lakeway, Texas Custom Boots, Bufalo Bob’s Chalupa Wagon and the Jalopy Rotisserie and Press.

In 2010 Michael met a young homeless man named Zach and his dog Lila. Wanting to do something to help this unfortunate man, Michael did a painting of the two in oils on cardboard, hoping to sell the painting to raise money for Zach and his dog. Posting the portrait on Facebook, Michael began to receive comments from hundreds of people along with stories and photographs of homeless people around the world. In a very short time Michael was painting homeless people in San Juan, Puerto Rico and people left homeless from the devastating floods in Pakistan, along with more paintings of local homeless people. The Homeless Project was born. Offers of partnership with other homeless organizations began pouring in from Korea, South America, England, Egypt and other countries. Nearing its one year anniversary next month, The Homeless Project has lost some momentum due to an inability to accept the many offers of partnership; more local support is needed, more contributions of artworks of all kinds that can be sold or auctioned are needed and more help at the organizational level to manage the business end of the operation is crucial.

In the fall of 2009 Michael Peschka was ennobled as Duke, Dux Bellorum to His Imperial Royal Majesty Czar Darius Adrik Salvo I Noto von Holstein-Gottorp-Trifiro-Kings and made Artistic Adviser and Imperial Portrait Painter to His Majesty. This year, 2011, Michael was also made Artistic Adviser and Royal and Imperial Portrait Painter to His Imperial Royal Highness Prince Gharios of Ghassan and was awarded the title of Viscount of Mounsef and a knight of the Order of St. Michael the Archangel.

Michael is also working regularly in Los Angeles, California and Port Townsend, Washington but remains based out of Austin, Texas. He may be contacted at duke.michael@imperialhouseofkings.org."

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