Arts and Entertainment

An artist who is new in town shows off his latest work

Mike Leavitt with his newest work, a set of reimagined Star Wars action figures. - Elizabeth Shepherd Photo
Mike Leavitt with his newest work, a set of reimagined Star Wars action figures.
— image credit: Elizabeth Shepherd Photo

Mike Leavitt, a Seattle sculptor who recently moved to Vashon, will host an open studio from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at his new home and workspace at 11329 103rd Ave. S.W.

It’s a chance to meet an interesting, up-and-coming artist and see his newest body of work:   “Empire Peaks,” a collection of articulated Star Wars action figures, painstakingly crafted from wood and clay.

As carved and painted by Leavitt, the characters have been reimagined as belonging to the faces and bodies of such historical and pop culture figures as Ghandi,  Abraham Lincoln, Sarah Palin, Martin Luther King, Angelina Jolie, Donald Trump, Kim Jong Il and many others.

Leavitt’s new work — bound for a major exhibition at New York’s Jonathan Levine Gallery in November — is an outgrowth of his long-running “Art Army” series — more than 300 “one-off” artist action figures depicing, in miniature, such art and music giants as Van Gogh, Dali, Picasso, Stevie Wonder, Bjork, Dale Chihuly and Jeff Koons.

Leavitt, who is 35, has also drawn inspiration from pop culture for other art series, including paint-by-number sets, wedding cake toppers, sets of cardboard shoes and coffins, hand-painted toilet seats, skatedecks and trading cards.

Another project has been “Pitchfork Pals,” a collaboration with controversial Seattle ceramicist Charles Krafft of busts, tea pots and Chia pets inspired by such figures as  Charles Manson, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Amy Winehouse and Vladimir Putin.

Examples from most of these projects, and more, will be on display at Leavitt’s open house. Pay a visit and see the work that has garnered write-ups in major publications, including New York Magazine, Juxtapoz Art and Culture Magazine and the London Observer.

“Like the objects that they celebrate, Leavitt’s lightweight replicas sit on the border between culture and commerce,” said a 2012 review in Wired Magazine.

For more information on the artist, visit

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