Campus Middle School teacher inspires students to pursue their passions

SUBMITTED BY ANNA C. DOLAN
CHERRY CREEK SCHOOLS

When he’s not teaching art at Campus Middle School, Michael Magrin is usually painting skyscapes. 

“After moving to Colorado from New York in 2001, I was immediately captivated by openness of the western landscape,” Magrin said. “What intrigues me about painting skyscapes is the challenge of preserving a nostalgia of place and a feeling of peace and trying to not let any other details get in the way of these two truths.” 

Magrin has been an artist all his life, and a teacher for 21 years. But believe it or not, this is his first year of teaching art. For the past two decades, he taught science.

“My undergraduate degree was in biomedical illustration,” explained Magrin, who was an illustrator for the Journal of Alternative Medicine early in his teaching career. “My background gave me a foot in the science world and a foot in the art world. I really enjoyed teaching science. It was really hands-on, so it fit me really well.”

But in recent years, his art career took off. He participates in the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, where he sold 38 paintings last year, as well as the Des Moines Art Festival. His work was featured in the 2021 Colorado Governor’s Art Show in the Loveland Art Museum, the 2020 Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils and the 2020 New Western Talent Exhibition. He currently has ten pieces on display in the “The Heavens Declare! Celebrating the Glory of the Skies” show at The Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, Texas.

“The art market right now is really strong, especially here in Denver,” Magrin said. “I can’t paint paintings fast enough and that’s a good problem. For people living up and down the Front Range, my compositions are familiar, so much so that they wonder ‘Have I been there?’ What accompanies this familiar view is a shared emotional response, the feeling of peace and stillness that you feel when you take in that view.”

Magrin said his second career as a working artist prompted his shift from science teacher to art teacher. 

“I needed to have two feet in the art world instead of straddling science and art. It was a good time for me to move into teaching art,” he said.

He also wants to dispel the misconception of the “starving artist” and give his students the courage to pursue art as a career if that’s their passion. 

“I tell my students I don’t know any starving artists,” he said. “I know a lot of very successful artists who paint day in and day out and make a great income.

“I really want to hook kids into a love for art and also equip them with the foundations of drawing and painting, specifically representational drawing and painting, as opposed to the abstract approach,” he said. “I also want to show them that there’s a pathway to a career within fine arts… It’s not just a hobby, and an enjoyment, but definitely something they can pursue as a career.”