Mark Garro, Eclectix Interview 59

 
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Mark Garro, An Eclectix Artist Interview

 

Mark Garro’s fantastic work is a mystical trip into worlds within worlds, luminous narrative paintings of wonder and beauty. Swirling with mythic symbolism, religious icons and the beauty of our natural environment – they tackle grandiose themes set in a surreal cosmos. His detailed works are large multilayered extravaganzas, overflowing with the push and pull between humanity and its own destruction and the struggles within our individual fragile psyches.

 

Mark Garro Eclectix interview

 

My favorite art memory from my childhood is …

One day my father (who was a lithographer, now retired), came home from work with a box full of small writing pads. He had used the paper cutting machine at his shop to cut the bottom edge of the pads at an angle so you could flip the pages easier, then proceeded to show me how to make a simple flip-pad animation. He made it very simple. He drew a circle on the first page, then turned to the next page and drew the circle in a slightly different spot then repeated the process enough times so that when he flipped the pages, the ball moved up and down. I was immediately hooked and started making more complex versions. I still have them. Looking back at them now, I see how they all showed some kind of disaster or accident. One is a surfer getting eaten by a shark, more than one are race cars crashing into trees. The shapes are all simple (the race car was simply a sideways triangle with wheels) – I was only 7 years old when I started doing them and they engaged me for countless hours.

 

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be…

That’s an easy one. I really wanted to be an archaeologist. I was obsessed with dinosaurs and fancied the idea of digging and searching for their bones. I still want to be one, (laughs)…

 

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My interest in art started when…

Before I can even remember, 3 or 4. My Grandfather was a good draughtsman and so is my father. A beautiful charcoal drawing my grandfather created, hung in our house and I was always impressed by it. My father also showed me simple two-point perspective when I was 5 years old, and that always fascinated me. My Grandfather went to art school for one year but had to drop out because of the Great Depression. My Father never considered it as a career.

 

An interesting bit of history surrounding one of my distant relatives is …

That he was a bodyguard for the Mob Boss, Albert Anastasia. This still freaks me out to this day, especially because Anastasia was murdered while getting a shave in a barber shop. This relative wasn’t so distant by the way (cue ominous music)…

 

Eclectix interview- Mark Garro

 

Besides working on my art, I also…

I have many interests, which all fuel my quest to paint. But at the top of the list are: Sports in general (I play tennis still), fitness training and yoga, bird-watching. I love working in our extensive flower gardens. I most especially love playing my saxophone which really keeps my brain fresh and inspired.

 

If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be …

Jimi Hendrix or Hieronomus Bosch. Because both guys were farrrrr out.

 

And we would… get toe-up as I picked their brains.

 

Eclectix interview- Mark Garro

 

The art technique that has helped me the most is ….

 Mastering acrylic paint. I presently finish paintings in oils, but I still do my underpaintings and the loose fun stages in acrylic which set up the whole mood of where the painting will head. Sometimes I still take a piece to finish only using acrylics. I recently have gotten into Gold leaf embellishments, which is a ton of fun.

Mastering acrylics is as much about your palette and the extremely careful pre-mixing of color and value, as anything that goes on in the canvas. I’m talking about realism with acrylics. The biggest challenge with acrylics is that they dry a slightly different darker value than when they are wet. Every color changes value slightly different from one another and some blacks and other dark colors actually dry lighter than when wet. Your brain has to download all (or as many of these variables as possible) to achieve delicate transitions of value. It took me many years to properly anticipate how much each color changes when dry. But pre-mixing and saving main colors in jars for each painting is key! palette prep is even more important with realistic acrylic painting than oils. This is the most common issue I see with painters learning or trying to master acrylics. Beyond the technical set-up and application is that you have to have a ruthless persistence and devotion to achieve the aim. You cannot achieve the aim without suffering! There are really no tips that create shortcuts. Acrylics also enable you to do many, many layers and glazes of color per hour that the drying time of oils just don’t allow. There are advantages and disadvantages of each medium. That’s why I’m using both mediums in my work these days, so I can take advantage of both mediums strong points,(oils over acrylic only, acrylic over oils will not stick). Bottom line is, you have to get down and dirty, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and work your ass off!

 

 If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …

Impossible question, I can only narrow it down to 4 or 5 but Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio, is at the top along with The Hallucinogenic Toreador by Dali. I was lucky enough to see both of these paintings in person, and both blew my mind in a serious way. Also any landscape painting by Maxfield Parrish, or Frederick Church. Or any painting by John Singer Sargent…. impossible question!!

 

Eclectix interview- Mark Garro

 

My current favorite piece of my own art is …

 Whatever one I’m working on currently, it’s the only way I can stay motivated. Once a painting is finished, I can’t wait to get it off the easel and out of my mind. I executed 3 large paintings that cover the themes of Heaven (above), Hell and Purgatory and are probably the ones I’m most proud of because of the ruthless dedication it took to complete them.

 

The most memorable thing anyone has ever said to me about my art is …

That’s interesting because it actually happened pretty recently on Facebook. A painter I admire named Raoul Vitale, said I was, “Conceptually fearless”. I never heard that before applied to anybody so it really stuck in my head and made me smile . Another peer I admire , the painter Van Saro said he thought I was the best living painter… I don’t know how to even process a superlative like that, nor do I agree with it, of course. It is such a subjective statement. I’m still insecure enough for that type of compliment to not affect my ego at all (laughs) but to know that I impacted at least one person in that way encourages me to paint yet another day.

 

Eclectix interview- Mark Garro 2

 

My ultimate project or fantasy is …

A patron to commission me to work larger than I ever have on my most treasured ideas. A huge canvas with no deadline or art direction from the patron.

 

I am currently working on …

My next solo show coming up on October 10th at Copro Gallery, Santa Monica, California. This show will feature Whales as a theme in some paintings and with the recurring, underlying themes of Man versus Nature.

 

Eclectix i- Mark Garro

 

A specific event in my life that sparked a number of my works was ….

The year I was born, 1962, because that time period in history saw the peak of Radioactive atmospheric pollution from the testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs. And an overall lack of concern for what we were doing to the environment. An attitude we to this day have to come to terms with before it’s too late, if it isn’t already. This dynamic seems to leak into almost all of my work.

 

If I could time travel – the era  I would like to drop in on is…

Any moment where I could have killed Hitler. Or the 1969 Woodstock concert, to hear the music , feel the transition of history and see Jimi Hendrix.

 

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The last song I choose to listen to was …

“ Spanish Fly”

It’s an acoustic, Spanish guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen. It’s mesmerizing.

 

The last book I couldn’t put down was …

”The Lost Symbol “ by Dan Brown.

 

My favorite character in a work of fiction is …

Colonel Kurtz from “ The Heart of Darkness”. His torment and the self-awareness of his insanity is terrifying and weirdly inspiring.

 

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One of my favorite words is …

“Vamos!!” and “Baba-booey” is up there too. LOL!

 

One of my favorite smells is …

Sausage and peppers cooking outside of Yankee stadium.

 

One of my favorite movies/TV shows is …

TV is in its Golden age I think. So many great shows. Newest favorites are, “Manhattan” which is about the development of the A-Bomb at Los Alamos. (I like historical fiction), “Better Call Saul”, “Girls” is brilliant. “The Americans”, “Hell on Wheels”, “Walking Dead“ “Sons of Anarchy”… I know I’m forgetting some. For new movies, “The Imitation Game” was fascinating.

 

I can’t live without … My art, my wife.

 

It’s not hip, but I really love …

Wearing bathrobes , listening to my cassette tapes, record albums and I still like and use my ten-year old Blackberry!

 

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My favorite part of my home is …

Our wood burning stove, because it creates such a wonderful, mood in our living room . A snowy day with it fired-up, my wife, our cats and a good movie or our favorite TV show playing.

 

If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be…

Exactly where I live, in the Catskill mountains of New York State. Because every time we ponder going on vacation, it’s hard to find a place that makes us willing to leave here. It’s gorgeous, clean, quiet, next to a pristine lake, has a low-cost of living (except for taxes) and is close enough to Manhattan for day trips. I would possibly consider Hawaii if forced to pick another place. I love the ocean.

 

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My favorite motto (or quote) is …

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it, boldness has genius power and magic in it.”  - A paraphrase of Goethe. 

Another all-time fave is from Einstein (maybe my favorite all-time human) -

“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger , who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness”

 

 

Mark Garro’s Website

 

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