October '09  


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I do humorous sculpture.  No mentors...self learned.  The art career is still my dominant focus. Animation is a team sport.  The freedom of walking out to the garage and just building the object is what I was initially attracted to do. I had my style almost immediately. Granted, it was a naive, dopey style, but I liked it.

Once I have the idea, I think through the different steps before I begin sculpting. I make a materials list, and go shopping. I buy large 8-foot slabs of craft foam that I get from Dow chemical (maker of Styrofoam).  I use acrylic paint I get from nova color in LA.  I use the shiny resin topcoat that I get from a distributor in northern California. There is much more, but these are the ones that come to mind. It's pretty inexpensive.

"Zulu Businessman" and "Voodoo Cheerleader" - mixed media

I sculpt in foam, use dowels for joints, papier-mâché the surface, fiberglass areas that could be vulnerable, then proceed to paint, then a finish of a resin - I also use coarse lava gel on foam, then paint. If its an outdoor piece, I use a resin that can be applied directly to foam, giving it a quarter inch shell of rigid resin.  These are just a few processes I use.

If something in the sculpture appears vulnerable to breaking, you must find a way to re-enforce it so that it's not so vulnerable. I have made things that tipped over once or twice.  I've made some mistakes and learned from them.

"Mongrel Lisa" - mixed media

"Cowpie" - hyde, plaster, acrylic

I like artists who have a devil-may-care attitude....Frank Zappa, Red Grooms, many 60's pop artists (Lichtenstein, Warhol, Deibenkorn, Thiebaud…)

My biggest limitations are $$$.  I have a design for a cow "cheerleader pyramid" fountain where milk (water w/chalk in it) comes out of the udders. As you can imagine, it would cost a lot of money to build a cheerleader pyramid fountain.  Nickelodeon is building a new amusement park in New Orleans, and I'm I trying to locate the creative team designing the attractions for the park, and pitch the idea to them - maybe they will want to include it. I've gotten some great gigs by pitching attractive ideas to the right decision makers.

I knew from the beginning that I would be considered a joke. I didn't have a problem with that.  I always felt like I was in a completely different business than most artists.  I just used the same venues and audiences to show my work.  Funny, a lot of my art peers like my work.  I was afraid they would not, but they do. I always have had a little reticence about shows.  I like group shows, but solo shows are a little unnerving until they are over. Art patrons or gallery representatives approach me if they like your work, so that has been painless over the years.  I guess you just have to make art that people like enough to be interested in.

"Salami and Swiss" - mixed media

See more of Mark's work at his website!

Artwork for this article is the property of  Mark Beam.

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