Sunday, September 21, 2014

Artist statement Mark Phenicie

Art is like a small window allowing us to see what’s happening in the mind of its creator. Like the earth and its entire splendor from the rainbows and waterfalls to the natural sights of life and sounds of our planet.  I can't help but think that outer space has even more to offer in travel and adventure which makes you want to meet the artist of it all.

I too am an artist; but for me I've lived and observed a colorful life time of events which looking back on it was like the beginning of a vintage movie from the fifties with an industrial neighborhood setting full of factories that daily plumed billows of toxic smoke and asbestos out of tall brick smokestacks which made people sick. As kids we really never thought about it because that was our way of life and we did not know any better. We lived on Swan Street between the Wabash River and the Wabash railroads which crossed over the Erie railroad. I guess to some it was a community of self induced poverty which was culture of bad decisions, lack of formal education and the attraction to the instant gratifications of life which resulted in poverty.

On Friday afternoon when the whistle blew men would leave the factories and run to the various bars on Market Street, cash their paychecks and would stagger home intoxicated and penniless, their family members many times greeted them as they sat in the car passed out with the engine running with screaming at two or three in the morning which woke up the neighborhood that screamed back at them to shut up!  New Year’s & Fourth of July was no exception to the drama. Neighbors took out their guns… screamed “Happy new years” and blasted the skies and we could hear the fallout bounce off our little tin roof house as we lay in our beds.

The contrast was that my Dad was also a factory worker and took his pay check seriously; He tucked it in his black round top lunch pail with the thermos that my Mom had daily prepared for him and brought it home and they carefully took their earned monies and slowly rose out of poverty. Both of my parents were honorable, hard working, creative and innovative. My Father was also a pastor in a small church and as a family we always went to every Sunday morning and night and Wednesday nights. He also worked as a barn painter and took me with him to help hold the ladder while he scraped the loose paint 20-40 feet up the air lend against the barns. In the process I was many times showered with lead base paint below while I keep the hogs away from knocking over his ladder in the barn yard. It was a time to be alone and think. We knew nothing of the dangers of lead paint. As kids we all had household chores assigned to us such as clean the house, weed the garden mow the yard with a manual push mower and burn the trash in the burn barrel. I had paper route at age ten where I learned too much too fast.

 Then on my 18th birthday things changed, I walked to the court house and found the Marine Corps recruiter, signed the papers which launched me “to the other side of the tracks”. I wanted to travel and the adventure to which I immediately went into a world of unheard of cultures and languages which included North Africa, south East Asia and Australia.  Initially I went as a gullible naive kid who soon became a Sergeant, a machine gunner, and an Embassy guard. The Vietnam experience was especially enlightening to me as to what the good, the bad, and the ugly really looked like and it put an end to my childhood innocent eyes.

My life’s experiences have had a direct impact on the way I think. I realize that everywhere I've been and everything I’ve been exposed to was an influence to shape me into who I am and how I think.  No matter where I traveled, I was attracted to art forms in wood, pottery, fabrics, and music of various cultures. When I returned home I noticed that America who had access to the most sophisticated tools in the world could only turn out what I referred to the 1970’s “Sears $49.95 junk” and if you had $49.95 you could have the same shag carpet and TV just like your neighbor had, whereas in impoverished countries I saw that they were turning out inexpensive detailed masterpieces with handmade crude tools. This observation inspired me to design and build my own Furniture and carvings as well as delving into the world of welding, which resulted in creating metal sculptures. Specifically Spaceships made with repurposed and found objects.

 In my travels  I would see artifacts or art objects that really caught my eye. I’d figure a way to buy them and shipped them to my parents, so that someday when I returned to my home I would be able to enjoy and share the stories of those things that others created for the rest of my life.

I know that my Art reflects an outward expression of my imaginative mind.  My creations whether in wood or metal became an ongoing motivating factor to continue to create and engineer new designs. Generally speaking, I think up my creations as I go, and what I came up with in the end was a reward to me! Yes I swam in the dirty Wabash river, rode the rails and fed peanut butter sandwiches to the hobo’s that slept at Laurie park when I was a young kid and now as an adult I stay up past midnight and get up before the crack of dawn and I say when I complete a project, “there It is, I'm finished”.















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