Interview Series: Mark Warren Jacques

Mark Warren Jacques was born and raised in Colombus, Ohio, but he screams West Coast. He credits the mystic, more spiritual aspect of his work to his Midwest upbringing, but his time spent on the West Coast, mainly Portland, has certainly shaped him as an artist. This body, titled “Small in a Big Way” opened on Friday in the White Walls Project Space, and the small pieces pointedly hung together formed a larger entity that really worked for his audience. In fact, he sold a good amount of his psychedelic pieces, while touring the gallery, skateboard in hand.

“The pieces are quite detailed, almost like miniatures focusing on a single element. A few have a little more narrative. I plan to hang them as a large collection thus making up this “big” feel whilst staying individually “small.” The large piece will be on its own but is highly detailed with literally tens of thousands of lines, thus being both big and small.”

I had a chance to meet up with Mark while he was preparing for this show and he clued me in on his process and vision. Check out the interview:

The piece behind Mark (and pictured above) incorporates the neon work of mulit-media artist Meryl Pataky. It’s a striking addition to the canvas, bringing out the fine detail of Mark’s line work.

LF: We love the show title “Small in a Big Way”. It has so many connotations. Can you elaborate a little on the small vs. big concept as you worked on this show?

MWJ: I was thinking of how it feels to be a tiny human in this huge universe, yet how we each contain within ourselves such massive potential.

LF: You hung the small pieces in a way to form a bigger statement. How do you make connections between the separate pieces to form a whole?

MWJ: Alone they are individual moments, or stories, or thoughts, but collectively they are a life as a whole. It’s like painting about my motorcycle or surf painting, painting about my son, skateboard painting, painting about camping or star gazing, they all collectively make up a life. Hopefully a life that looks super happy and fun, which is what I want life to be all the time for everyone.

LF: What’s the big picture to you?

MWJ: As a mystery, the universe and death. In a tangible way, seeing my son grow up to become a man.

LF: Your work has been called meditative. Are you in line with this perspective?

MWJ: Yes. I find myself in a meditative state often while painting, especially the repetitive wave/line paintings. And then later when the picture is on the wall it is easy to space out while looking into them. Also, I think painting as meditation keeps me sane on the day-to-day.

LF: Your line work and symmetry take on an almost sacred, mystic aesthetic, in a way Native American. Can you talk about some of your influences in this area? Can you talk about as a native of Ohio? Has your upbringing influenced you?

MWJ: Ohio is in my blood. I have a lot of pride for my homeland. Some of the folky imagery I use is derived from Amish stuff I would see around where I grew up, hex signs, and the like. I’ve also always been stoked on Native American anything. I grew up on a farm in rural Ohio and I would constantly be in the woods and fields playing and hunting for arrowheads. I loved fantasizing about myself as a primitive kid, sneaking around the woods and playing with the animals, living in harmony with the land. Native American “artwork” is quite inspiring to me. I love that its beauty’s goal is to be functional in some way to the community or to the spirit world, that is a connection between the amish and the natives.. hands to work, hearts to God. I often have these goals with my work as well.

LF: What’s your secret to such an amazing color palette?

MWJ: Apple Barrel paints and beer.

LF: Can you talk about your influences from street art at a young age?

MWJ: In middle school we moved to the city and I started skateboarding, and later doing graffiti. I was always being creative somehow but skateboarding opened up this whole idea that everything is the canvas, every surface is a chance to get creative, from the style you put in your skating, the style of your clothes, the graphics you put on your board, etc. It was all about taking what you had and making it cool for you and your friends. Then graffiti came into the picture it was like, oh yeah! I can be creative everywhere, with everything I do. And that was the point at which I realized I want to be an artist somehow.

LF: Were/are you a graffiti artist?

MWJ: I’m an artist. I do graffiti. I believe we are all artists if we can let ourselves go. That’s what I love about being a father now, I get to see that pure innocent freedom in my son. I think that simple kid shit/freedom gets lost in too many people as they grow up. I hope I never grow up and forget how to love life with open eyes like a child.

LF: What gets you off, literally or figuratively?

MWJ: Jennifer.

LF: How fast do you live?
MWJ: That really depends on the vehicle. Let’s say quite fast generally.

You can catch Mark’s show “Small in a Big Way” at White Walls Project Space April 13 – May 4, along with other amazing works by artists Skewville, Mary Iverson, and a phenomenal group show “Hard Time Mini Mall” curated by Red Truck Gallery. All photos by Abby Wilcox.

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