Friday, December 23, 2011
Merry Christmas and best wishes for a wonderful New Year.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Marcus took up the paintbrush, in the spirit of fun, and his first work was a Christmas card (pictured). The message it carried was more than just a holiday wish. His triumphant “Yo!” signaled to everyone his definitive take on the situation. Rather than gloom or depression, the drawing attests to Marcus’ simple joy in being alive and his pleasure in this new-found form of expression. Twenty-five years since the accident that paralyzed him, Marcus still paints in the spirit of love and fun, touching lives with tenderness and wonder.
There's an ancient Hindu story about a man who spent his lifetime begging by the city gates, always at the brink of starvation, clothed in rags. After awhile, he died, and after another several years the city decided to enlarge the gateway. During the excavation, the municipal workers turned up the earth on which the beggar had stood, sat and slept for those many years. Underneath the very spot, they discovered a priceless treasure, enough to feed and clothe any number of men for any number of lifetimes. All along, the story goes, within touching distance of the hapless beggar's feet great riches lay buried, worth many times more than what he needed to survive and live abundantly. What a cosmic event that might have been! If only the beggar had ever paused to consider what lay underneath the layers both of himself and the world.
We need more messages like the message of Marcus' first Christmas card: signs, poems, paintings, gestures that point the way to the treasure hidden shallowly beneath the surface of our everyday struggle, hungers and chills. It is in the same spirit of love and wonder that we wish all our friends and family,
Merry Cosmic Christmas!
PS: Happy solstice all! There's nothing like the shortest day and longest night to heighten your sense of time. ;')
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Nature performs magical feats by the millions every minute. But, busy with our private concerns and human interests, we often fail to notice nature's miracles . . . until someone shows us the world anew and wakes us up to the extraordinary quality of ordinary time.
Marcus is an artist who wakes us up. To borrow from literary terms, Marcus’ paintings, provocative and miraculous, are an instance of magical realism. He crafts scenes that defy the rules of the real world and in doing so, reveals a truth about this world we call home, and take for granted. We willingly follow his lead, suspending disbelief because he creates a reality we only need to be shown to believe in.
"For the hard of hearing you shout, and for the near-blind you draw in large and startling figures," says Flannery O'Connor, a writer whose style anticipated the power of magical realism.
Realistic, accurately rendered elements in fanciful, impossible scenes evoke strong feelings. Through his use of mystery and metaphor, mediating between reality and imagination, Marcus opens up a world and invites us along on an epic journey.
The invitation is the same invitation issued by Nature, day after day, with her miracles. This winter, wake up to the world revealed anew. The Geminid meteor shower tonight and the Christmas Bird Count are both good ways to jump-start your belief in miracles and join Marcus on a journey which promises to be both very magical and very real.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
|Anne in a sea of photos, selecting the perfect images for each page.|
Anne collects and records the memories; the retrospective requires her eyes on the artist as he grows, creates and evolves, as much as it requires the eye of the artist himself. She has documented Marcus, his work and their life together over the last quarter-century, plus a few years, those years before the accident. Her diligence is a labor of love which gives flesh and blood to the words describing their journey together.
So, as anyone who has loved for long can imagine, when it came to sorting through 25 years of life in images, it was certainly a labor of love! From the photos of Marcus as a young athlete, to his time of transition adjusting to paralysis, to photos of him at work painting his latest masterpiece, not to mention the images Anne has carefully recreated from his original paintings, she can show us the evolution of their love and art.
To Anne we owe this next exciting stage of the journey of creating this retrospective. The images have been selected, and putting pictures to the story is like putting words to music. Stay tuned for perhaps a few sneak peeks and maybe even a photo essay. . .
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
|Watch time soar.|
How Time Flies is a direct expression of Marcus' relationship with time – the revelry and ravages, the love and loss, the joy and the heartbreak, as he is (all of us really are) simultaneously blessed and held hostage by time. In his honesty with himself, Marcus transcends his particular experience of time and touches on something universal. We see through Marcus’ own eyes something we can all recognize in our own relationship with the time of our lives.
|Time around the table with friends.|
But time fools and foils us completely. We trick ourselves into thinking time is exhaustible when the truth about time is that we make it. Just like we make art, memories, love. "I cherish every moment," says Marcus, when he reflects on the time of his life, nailing the true spirit of Thanksgiving in his depiction of this holy theft."The raven seems like it could surpass time, and I’m hitching a ride – the fountain of life."
"An infinite perspective is the fountain of youth," Marcus says and this is what he shows us in How Time Flies. And this is what defines human thanksgiving - simultaneously blessed and held hostage.
What are you thankful for in this moment? Add to the infinite list (into cyberspace, for which we are also thankful) below.
Friday, November 11, 2011
|Bob films Marcus cruising through the lovely day at Lake James.|
As we work on capturing the last 25 years of Marcus' time creating art, we find ourselves blessed with many good moments in which we almost seem to transcend clock-time to dwell in possibility and opportunity - moments that last a lifetime. The spirit of Kairos hovers around us as the right people gather at the right place in the perfect time to create the book.
|Lydia Inglett, Marcus, Leslee and Anne (behind the camera) discuss timing.|
We've also spent some time in front of the camera ourselves, thanks to Bob Peck of revpictures, a talented videographer who is working with us to film the DVD portion of the project. Saturday afternoon found us all at Lake James. Vibrant leaves served as a fitting backdrop for a fireside chat which was profound and inspiring.
We cannot know what the next days, weeks and month will hold, but with the good work before us, the right people beside us, and the blessing of good timing, we know we are in for a harvest season of grand possibilities.
|Kairos, the spirit of good timing.|
Monday, October 24, 2011
Churchill, who discovered painting late in life, revels in his discovery of the sheer pleasure of painting, describing it as a “joy ride in a paint-box.” And for this joyful journey, expectations should be left at the door, he says: “Audacity is the only ticket.”
“Painting is a companion with whom one may hope to walk a great part of life’s journey,” Mr. Churchill writes, a truth close to Marcus’ heart. Each step is an opportunity to see more, do more and learn more.
Winston Churchill and Marcus Thomas both learned the same secret: painting transforms the hours. No matter what weight burdens the heart, or what frustration nags at the mind, no matter if infirmity cripples the body, painting releases the soul and launches it into wonder. Churchill proclaims:
The whole world is open with all its treasures. The simplest objects have their beauty. Every garden presents innumerable fascinating problems. Every land, every parish, has its own tale to tell. And there are many lands differing from each other in countless ways, and each presenting delicious variants of color, light, form and definition. Obviously, then, armed with a paint-box, one cannot be bored, one cannot be left at a loose end, one cannot ‘have several days on one’s hands.’ Good gracious! What there is to admire and how little time to see it in!
What little time indeed for all the wonder the artist's soul can hold! A daredevil at heart, game for the joy-ride painting invites, Marcus’ work gives substance to his audacity and joy, as well as his poetic soul. As he faithfully takes up his brush, cherishing each moment, time itself, ordinary and mundane, begins to glow golden.
“Happy are the painters," declares Mr. Churchill, "for they shall not be lonely. Light and color, peace and hope, will keep them company to the end, or almost to the end, of the day." He concludes his own testament to the art of painting with a exhortation strikingly similar to Marcus’ philosophy of life: “Go out into the sunlight and be happy with what you see.”
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Marcus graduated MHC in 1985 with a degree in Recreation. Three months later, he survived a skiing accident that paralyzed him from the neck down. Before the accident, Marcus was a talented athlete. After the accident transformed his way of being in the world, he became a gifted artist.
We are thrilled about the show, which opens this week (Saturday @10am) and stays up all month. If you are in the area, consider a visit to see Marcus' work live.
From the artists' statement:
My voice as a painter amplifies multiple personalities that include a desperate cry for environmental help, a deathly cold walk through life, endlessly happy days of play, historic conversation about the evolution of flight, and simply celebrating the obvious beauty that surrounds us.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
My influences are many, and with numerous styles.
Holbien Robert Bateman
Vermeer Julie Speed
Rembrandt Walton Ford
Van Gogh The Wyeth Family
The litany of names could indeed be a "light brigade" of artists. Men and women who could do no other but create through color, and values, paint, brush, canvas, all of them compelled and driven to express a vision bigger than the individual.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
If art is a conversation human beings have with the world they are thrown into, Marcus Thomas has a lot to say. “Art comes out of suffering,” Marcus admits, reflecting on the lives of the masters,“but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer with your art.”
The conversation he participates in through his brush strokes and colors is one that is informed by suffering. The ultimate point of his conversation, however, is beauty and resilience.
Wreckage is a subtle but recurring theme in Marcus’ work - dilapidated churches, broken windows, fallen birds, birds captured and killed, beached rowboats. Yet, just about every broken thing you find in his paintings is also amazingly full of life - inhabited by birds or surrounded by natural splendor. Though the fragility of life, something Marcus knows so well, is honestly part of the picture, the story never ends in wreckage; suffering never has the last hurrah.
Marcus' paintings, from his depictions of landscapes and songbirds to his more symbolic statements, reveal both a world on the verge and the painter’s effort to save it in meticulous brushstrokes and bold imagery. Marcus is a painter capable of showing his audience the world they live in, which is often a world they have never seen before. His life, and the artistic accomplishment that it is - born of suffering, beautiful and resilient, shows us the same world.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Embracing the journey!
Friday, August 12, 2011
|Raven detail from "The Watch"|
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I bought my copy of Walden and Other Writings from The Strand bookstore in New York City in September of 2000, when I was terribly homesick for the mountains of North Carolina. When I picked it up yesterday, for the first time in years (not counting unpacking and packing it) I found within the pages, in the chapter called "Solitude" pictures of my long-gone friend Ishmael and the garden we grew together on the Bruce Farm in Mars Hill, NC. Calvin Chandler, who had cows and a tractor, plowed and raked over the soil for me - half an acre worth - and I planned to grow enough vegetables to keep students and families of Mars Hill in fresh vegetables all season. The task would prove much easier to dream than to realize - not so much the growing (I had the Ishmael, with about 7o years of gardening experience, to help me) but what to do with all the vegetables and how to get my classmates to come shovel manure in the name of community.
So mostly, it was just me and Ish at the garden. The photos are a result of my excitement at the vast, plowed expanses of what would be my garden. It was the fall of 1993, and I was starting a garden of greens and crimson clover. Ish and I were talking about how to lay everything out, and I caught a great crooked picture on a little disposable camera of Ish walking off a row, followed by two scrappy beagles, whose names I can't remember but know that I have recorded in a journal somewhere in the pink liquorstore box in my closet here in South Asheville, in the late summer of 2011.
Ishmael died in the late nineties, when I was living in New York. The place where our garden was is, last I checked, an embankment that serves as an entrance to a gated community, now starting to show the age, despair and neglect of the recent few years.
So what does all this have to do with work on Marcus' 25- year retrospective? Well, this remains to be seen, but I suspect it's because a retrospective is, necessarily, a lot about time, timing, looking back and wondering. It involves asking, sometimes too, what to make of a diminshed thing - whether we're talking about the natural world we once knew, or the people we used to be. That's the hard part. But. A retrospective well done can have a happy ending, and help us re-member ourselves as surely as we see the same person in the mirror when we pause to look ourself in the eye, every time.
Plus, in the middle of August, really, especially, who doesn't dream of retreating to a remote cabin in the woods, to study the of late summer drone of crickets and cicada, and to stare at the deepening sky, trying to catch and name that particular shade of blue. Closest thing to hitching a ride on the watch in the detail of Marcus' "The Watch" and flying into that deep color blue.
In hectic times like these, it's good to have some sort of retreat, a cabin in the woods to re-member. Maybe that's reading a book you once loved, or losing yourself in an art, the practice of making something. And then, added to that, an invitation to a good friend's "cabin" in the woods wouldn't hurt.
My cabin in the woods:
Canvas provides shelter from the cold,
Paint fuels the warmth,
Come visit us here anytime. Tell us how you retro-spect and re-member. And share where you found your "cabin in the woods" where you make the time, in these times, to practice your art, whatever it is you practice.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
|Detail from the painting titled "The Watch"|
I love the intertwined idea of science and religion. Because I breathe the metaphorical, my acceptance of both is satisfying. I am not grasping for Big answers! Content with the obvious, focusing on MY metaphorical foot print and embracing what is real.
This is my consumption!
Reality is the foundation, for I live in an abstract frame.
Escape through paint, brush and love? YOU BET!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
|A classic shot of Lake James, courtesy of the Lake James homepage|
Anne remains on deck for an interview. She seems to be in delay mode most of the time, perhaps if the exchange could be conducted at the lake, the information would flow freely. Add a glass of wine to the equation?
My current painting projects consist of work needing to be completed for the book, Florida subjects for winter shows and miscellaneous scenes needed for creative growth. More hours in the day would be welcomed!
I am discovering that the more creative paintings provide me with a satisfied emotion, a more rewarding feeling of accomplishment. Such soul-reflecting works should insure longevity and provide me the inspiration to continue painting long after I am dead.
What a concept!
With lots of shows on the horizon the typical productive week will be altered slightly. The norm is to enjoy a complete week of painting with one day of play. Soon, the show routine dictates a pace that Anne maneuvers through like a super human (super hero). Organizing business demands, travel requirements and a host of family stuff only scratching the surface of her list. Me, the adjustment is pathetic in comparison.
The book project will adapt with the schedule. Our goal is to have a mock book in toe when we visit the design company, located in Charleston S.C.. November is the target.
Hopefully, Leslee will join our journey, providing her expertise with text layout. Multiple ideas channeled into one goal should deliver the desired result.
Go / Team / Go !
Thursday, July 7, 2011
These paintings will be shown and discussed in depth in the book. Stay tuned for further thoughts on art, life and the world.
Feel free to comment below on your experiences with Marcus' art, or even art and life in general. We'd love to hear from you.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Sunday, June 26, 2011
|Marcus and Bella blogging|
The result was another productive, blistering fast Pow Wow that makes me eagerly wait for the next session.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Leslee Johnson will be deciphering interviews,photos and paintings to create a captivating text for the book. Her talents as a writer and philosopher will certainly be rewarding.