Portland artist Mark Warren Jacques has been busy working on a new solo show featuring interactive installation, painting, and sculpture titled “Big Beautiful Color” at Fontanelle Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Mark took some time out to answer a few questions for AM, and sent us some images of the work produced for the show. Â Take a look after the jump.
Arrested Motion (AM): To start off, let us all get acquainted with you. Tell us a little about yourself, your art, and your involvement with Together Gallery in Portland, OR.
Mark Warren Jacques (MWJ): I am a painter, a dreamer, a reader, often a thinker, ambitious, and living for love and beauty. My work is a major connector between my body and my mind. Sometimes life is pretty wearing on the soul and the body, so the work becomes a resting place.Â Art is a place to get away from everything and to connect to myself, both in thought and in the action of making stuff. It also connects me in a very direct way to the way I understand the world around me.
Together Gallery is an art space run by four artist friends : Seth Neefus, David Wien, Timothy Karpinski, and myself. We also have a rad staff of volunteers, we are dedicated to providing the community with a space for outstanding visual expression, and an outlet for free thought. Tim founded the joint in 2007.Â David, Seth, and I joined in shortly after. Itâ€™s a good place and it is coming into its own now. Itâ€™s been a lot of work for all of us.
AM: I like the way that that you describe what you do as ‘painting and thing-making’. Whatâ€™s your favorite part of ‘thing-making’?
MWJ: I find a lot of joy in every part of it. Though I most like the conceptualizing part that happens first. That is the part of the process that challenges me to think the deepest and to look around at the world I live in with an open mind and heart. It is easy to go along day after day and not take in any of the beauty that surrounds us everywhere. Although I have to be careful not to get too wrapped up in just my own thoughts. I never want to lose perspective. My beautiful girlfriend calls that the “art hole”. I try to look and to read as much as I can and to experience everything without pre-conceived judgments.
AM: You describe on your website that you ‘live, love and work’ in Portland. Does that mean that you love living there, or just that it’s where you do all of your lovin’? Portland seems to have an incredibly vibrant artist community – what drew you to the city of Portland, and does the reason that you moved there still keep you there?
MWJ: Both actually. I love Portland immensely. It is a magical place. Most of my lovinâ€™ gets done here. The community of art makers is wide and pretty all encompassing. I think what makes this particular city so appealing for creative people is how easy and cheap it is to live here. I have a number of friends that can sustain themselves here without “real” jobs and spend all there time doing whatever the hell they want. Which means if you want to make some wild project happen, you just take time and do it. And everyone helps each other out.
In San Francisco, and New York and LA, it seems like you’re always strapped for time because you’re spending it all at your job working in order to pay rent and taxes and for $6 pints of shitty beer. In Portland you can find a pint of shitty beer for $1 any night of the week. For me that is important because I like beer. However I have a deep desire to get back to a much more rural / simple / natural life at some point. I spent a nice portion of my childhood living on a twenty acre farm in rural Ohio. I really miss being connected to the earth. I think that is one major problem with full-time city life. You have no idea what it means to get connected to the earth. In the city, the earth is all covered with concrete and all that. Itâ€™s hard to realize what youâ€™re missing out on because there is so much going on with all the people, and all the shit that everyone is doing. Of course I am also one of those people shit doing.
AM: I enjoy the elemental nature of your work and the symbolism used in some of the imagery that you use. Some of the forms that you use seem to be reoccurring in a variety of your works – the energy waves, for example. Can you tell us what some of these shapes and symbols are alluding to?
MWJ: The waves came out of this natural desire for me to focus on the action of painting. When I am working on that repetitive action, I lose all sense of reality, and thus enter into that sort of raw energy zone. That sounds silly I guess, but I think the works really reflect the energy of my hand and focused detail and time. I love that when most people look at them they at least say “whoa that dude spent some time on this.”
The shapes and symbols are much more grounded in reality. The triangle has a heavy hand on me right now and has for a while. I see it as this ultimate man-made object, yet it somehow feels so natural. Probably because I am a man living in a society that prefers the idea of infinite growth. In that way the triangle pushes you from the base where all the weight is – up, up, up, to the tip or pinnacle. That is where the power is happening. That is why I often paint everything to focus on that point.
AM: The titles of some of your pieces are very specific, as if they are describing your thought process in a moment of time – ‘Being Love is the Feeling of Being,’ ‘A Man Alone Thinking About Many Things,’ ‘A Dream of Two Lovers Making Love on a Fancy Rug Under a Strange Moon,’ ‘This dude is cruising late night, with philosophy on his mind,’ ‘When I die, which we all do, bury me in sweet solitude,’ and ‘There the day will last forever, when it is nothing at all’ being some of my particular favorites.
Your artistic process seems to be very thought driven – do you find that a concept for the composition comes to you initially, and the title comes after, or does the title come first and then the concept of the imagery evolve from within the words?
MWJ: Definitely the title comes last. A good amount of the time I wonâ€™t even sketch for a piece. I typically work on whole bodies of work at the same time, so ideas develop within the whole body. I like to let the work work for me in that way. Colors, ideas, symbols, etc. all get shared among that body. Then at the end, I take a look and let the pieces pick there own titles based on what was bouncing around in my head during the whole process, and the way they come out. I always complain that I wish I could write well and so the titles are my sorry attempt at being a writer.
AM: You have a solo show called ‘Big Beautiful Color’ at Fontanelle Gallery in Portland. Can you give us a few details about the show and let us know if there is any kind of theme / what we should expect from the show?
MWJ: This show has been super fun to work on. I put a lot into it and have been rewarded for sure. My good friend Owen and I built a twelve foot tall wooden tepee structure that you could climb into. Inside the tepee we mounted a painting, and I filled the floor with elements from my bedroom, like books, rocks, incense, cactus’s, etc. My other good friend and an amazing musician Blake Anthony Ray Miller recorded a 50 min soundtrack that was played through a sweet Alamo amplifier. And at the opening Blake played in the tepee and sold handmade mixtapes of the score. That was really rad. I also had my good friend Keegan screen-print 40 picket signs with stoney slogans I came up with. Those were distributed at the opening so everyone could protest the night and take it home with them.
Oh what else… I made a dozen new paintings and a couple sculptures, and I put down a 20 foot long vinyl sticker of a pattern I made on the floor running the length of the main exhibition wall. I think it all turned out really well. And we all had fun making it happen. The ladies at Fontanelle are super awesome and they have a beautiful space.
AM: What about future plans for the rest of the year? Do you have any other upcoming shows?
MWJ: Yes, this year is shaping up to be busy. I have two solo shows coming up in April. The first will be in SF at Rare Device that opens on Friday, April 3rd and will run until April 28th. And, the other in L.A. at Little Bird Gallery that opens Saturday, April 11th and will run until Friday, May 1st. Then in May, I have a split show with Timothy Karpinski. And more too later this year. Good Times.
AM: Thanks for taking some time out to fill us in Mark. Best of luck with the shows!
MWJ: Thanks again Sven. Stay Stoked.
‘Big Beautiful Color’
205 SW Pine Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue)
February 5 – 28, 2009
Hours: Wed – Sat (12 – 6 pm and by appointment)