Mark Allen is a “re-emerging” artist. In his early years, he sculpted and used “found objects” before the term even existed. Over thirty years ago he created cartoons. When their older son, Jared, succumbed to cancer, life for Mark and his wife, Donna changed. Mark’s art has been his therapy since then, and until recently, he was keeping it within the family. The Rickie Report is honored to share Mark Allen’s artistry and his story, which is so poignant as we approach Father’s Day.
Proper Mental Attitude
The Arts Arena Gallery
Friday, June 19th
6 – 8:30 pm
777 E. Atlantic Avenue Delray Beach, FL 33483
Mark Allen tells The Rickie Report, “Proper Mental Attitude illustrates ‘nobody gets out of this life untouched’ and despite the depths of grief or despair we might just find the strength to laugh, love and live. ‘We can live until we die or we can die until we die’ …..hence, Proper Mental Attitude.”
Mark Allen has always been a creative person, using “found objects” before the term was even in popular vocabulary. Until recently, Mark and Donna Allen’s creative force has been in the food industry. It seems fitting that he sold one of his favorite sculptures, “Lunch Box” to another restaurant.
Borne out of a need to create something positive while his older son succumbed to cancer, Mark’s cynical sense of humor remained raw and honest. It was during life’s most challenging moments that Mark chose to use his talents to find purpose and inspiration as a way to maintain his own sanity and pay homage to an eight year old’s life well lived and loved.
Life itself doesn’t have to be black and white. Vibrant moments can be experienced if you allow yourself to venture into that world. Perhaps considered primitive or simplistic, Mark’s use of color and lack of depth are both instinctive and purposeful. The message speaks for itself as you are unwittingly, but willingly, invited into the idyllic images.
Having started to cartoon over 30 years ago, Mark shared the passion with his son, Jared. Before succumbing to cancer, Jared drew a satiric “Toaster Man” cartoon. During shiva, the time of mourning immediately following death, Mark was appalled at the comments some people shared, in trying to be “comforting.” Mark shares this life lesson with us. “Saying “You must be relieved”, is NOT comforting. Say nothing. Reminisce. Say nothing. Hug us.” Mark tells The Rickie Report, “That’s how the cartoons started. In black and white. No color.”
In 1995, Mark began working with Charles Fazzino, Master of 3D Pop Art. As Fazzino’s techniques influenced Mark, his cartoons began to change. He incorporated more dimension. Mark and Donna went into the restaurant business to earn a living and left the art world in the shadows. Actually, Mark left the art in his closet and would steal away minutes of time to work on art pieces, standing in the closet!
Around 2010, Mark returned to using colored pencils and oil pastels and was ready to retire from the restaurant business. Max Beckman fell in love with Mark’s art and helped reconnect Mark with his inner artist. Between 2011 -2012, increasing color seeped into Mark’s life. When we spoke recently, he shared, “Now I only see in color and composition. It is pretty much the way I see life. Color and composition is what matters.”
In 2013, the Allens moved from Arizona to Palm Beach County, FL. Mark’s recent work is more defined. He is “putting the world back into order, outlining everything.” His work is currently at the Arts Arena Gallery in Delray Beach and he is already scheduled for two SOLO Exhibitions: December 6, 2015 through January, 2016 (at the Weisman Center) and 40 pieces at the Spanish River Library in June, 2017. Art patrons will be able to see the evolution of Mark’s artistry, which continues to evolve.
Mark graduated from the High School of Music and Art (NYC) and Hobart College (Bachelor’s in Fine Arts/Geneva, NY) . He was a member of the Students’ Art League (NY) and is now an exhibiting member of the Delray Art League (FL) and Gold Coast Watercolor Society (FL) .
For more information about Mark’s artistry, please contact: