About The Artist

Michael’s lifelong love of art was sparked during his childhood in Beverly Hills, California, where he painted alongside his mother and two aunts, all three of whom were accomplished oil painters. Eventually, he moved from painting to other mediums and won several county-wide awards for his work in ceramics. Though he started college as an art major, Michael graduated Stanford University with a degree in psychology and then took an even more practical course, earning his MBA at UC Berkeley. 

What followed was a multi-decade career in construction and real estate development, both areas that called on Michael’s artistic expression through architecture and design. During this period, Michael continued to work as a fine artist, focusing on large-scale mosaic sculptures and assemblage, often using found objects. Then, in 2011, he circled back to painting. Interestingly, Michael has partial color blindness, but what might limit someone else is just his unique way of seeing the world. He has a predilection for brighter colors that are easier to see and make a powerful impact. At times, a camera is used to enhance the difference between colors, as a guide for the final piece. 

Since 2003, Michael has lived in Santa Barbara, California, with his husband Steven, whom he met in 1981. There, he designed and built their home, Pentimento, named for the changes made by overpainting in a work of art. In addition to many carefully placed Vilkin paintings, Pentimento is filled with treasures collected over years of world travel, ephemera from scouring flea markets and antique malls, and countless family heirlooms. 

Michael devotes himself to working in the dedicated art studio adjacent to the main house. In a relatively short time, the paintings have been shown locally, recognized in juried exhibitions, and sought out by collectors. Not unlike the design for his Pentimento, Michael’s paintings often include juxtapositions of non-obvious pairings and tend to draw the viewer in, layer upon layer. Whether still life, portraiture, nonrepresentational, or landscape, they reflect the depth and breadth of an artistic vision that is continuing to evolve.