Monday, February 3, 2014

Mark Flowers - Sharing Stories to Make Connections

Tribe - Mark E. Flowers -Mixed Media

Last week I mentioned the opening of a new exhibition by painter Mark E. Flowers at the Upstairs Artspace in Tryon, NC and yesterday I attended the opening reception which began with an artist's talk.
I always enjoy this portion of an exhibition as it gives the artist and the audience an opportunity to connect through language as well as sight.
I found Mark very true to his artist statement both in what I saw in his work and in what he had to say.  
Artist Statement

Throughout my life, I have made use of images to clarify my relationship with the world. The repeated symbols I use are a ‘visual vocabulary’ that creates an on-going dialogue. My works are stories-small insights and reflections of my experiences. In seeking meaning in the world, I am sharing my story in hopes of making connections with the viewer.

In recent years, I have been concerned with the shape of the work as well as the image itself. My interests have always cycled from the purely sculptural back to the traditional illusionary formats. The latest works seek a balance between the two by painting on manipulated surfaces, attaching found objects and computer manipulated images. Currently, I am exploring the use of faces, figures and objects to create a more visual story.
Mark spoke about his decision not include a commentary alongside his work.  He explained that if asked he could relate the story behind each painting but he prefers to give the viewer the opportunity to create their own story about a painting.  He does use titles which I found both interesting and just enough information to satisfy my curiosity about the origins of the story behind each work.
As someone who often works with "bits and pieces", I also enjoyed his description of his "woodpile".  The woodpile is a collection of found pieces of wood or purchased pieces of wood that he collects and which "rest" in his studio until the moment when it is just the right thing for a specific composition.  Anyone who works with fabric can relate to this idea.
I also enjoyed and appreciate the fact that he composes his work in multiple panels which are then arranged and permanently attached to other panels and become part of a whole.  Again, this is a very traditional manner of working with fabric and Mark uses this technique in his paintings with great impact.

Mark E. Flowers
This body of work is mature yet still feels fresh.  He mentioned his new-found interest in pattern, evidence of which can be glimpsed in the above photo. 

The exhibition also includes prints by Andrew Blanchard and will be on view until March 14, 2014.
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