Mary Mark has always been an artist. Trained as a painter and printmaker during two bachelor degrees in the 1970s, she taught herself handmade papermaking. In the last 15 years, she has been selling handmade papers, linocuts, and oil pastels in and through 400 gallery and frames shops throughout the U.S. and abroad. She has exhibited in numerous museums, competitions, and received many purchase awards including a recent one from Ohio University in the State Percent-for-the-Arts program. Throughout the summer and early fall, Mary travels the mid-west from Milwaukee to Philadelphia presenting her linoleum block prints and occasionally her other works in juried outdoor art festivals. She lives and works out of a 120-year-old church building in New Richmond, Ohio.
Mary's first love is printmaking. In the early 1970s, she was drawn to the printmaking studios by the smell of benzene, kerosene, nitric, and all those toxins used in etching metal or sensitizing limestone. Mary was totally enthralled by the printing mystique; in order to make an image work. The printmaker need carve, etch, or otherwise prepare the matrix in however many steps the chosen process requires. The printmaker is inevitably separated from her visualization and must make the most of the surprises encountered along the way. "Inspired by Picasso' s reduction linocuts, I have been working at this for 20 years now and have yet to conquer it. Pitting negative and positive spaces against each other, the image emerges from the block over months of carving and printing multiple layers of color until it evolves into the original idea."
Mary's oil pastels are a profusion of life's accouterments and fabrics, expanded contemporary still lifes, modern living spaces, a frenzied assortment of brilliant colors and textured patina composed into harmonious image that speaks of tranquillity and reflective reverie. They are locations for and images of meditational quietude, contemporary sanctuary for a modern world. Mary's work is sometimes referred to as Matisse-like in her vivid palette and somewhat funky perspective. Surfaces are layered one on top of another, juxtaposing pattern on pattern for a high energy, busy effect.