Locally, some folks may associate Mark Weber’s fine art with colorful jungle scenes or monochromatic serene views of the natural world. Nationally, his pen-and-ink illustrations have been featured in such well-known magazines and newspapers as Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. Today, he continues to sketch for Tribune Media’s op-ed columns and even for Wilmington’s own monthly women’s magazine, Wilma. The great pause the world is going through at present definitely hasn’t slowed Weber’s output.
“I usually send [Tribune] one to three illustrations a week based on current events,” Weber tells. “I have drawn a lot of masks these past few weeks!”
Folks can see of few of these on his blog. One shows a bald, green man wearing a mask, fanning money he’s made off the novel coronavirus. Another illustrates a simple daisy wearing a mask as spring hits. While the weekly sketches certainly help pay the bills, fine art is a passion Weber continues exploring. He will host a virtual art exhibit as part of ACME Studio’s artist lineup on Friday, May 22, 6 – 9 p.m., on his Facebook page.
“This pause has given me extra time to focus on my art perhaps a little bit more than before and, more importantly, given me time to play, which is sometimes a luxury if I have been pressured by various deadlines,” Weber continues.
The May 22 exhibit was planned as part of ACME’s Fourth Friday before COVID-19. Titled “Mark Weber | Five Years at ACME,” it will be a retrospective of Weber’s work, featuring approximately 30 pieces, including new works he’s painted since January. There will be small and large work for sale on both canvas and paper (prices range from $75 to $3,000).
“I will be posting photos of the pieces, along with their size, medium and price,” Weber explains of the format, to be streamed via Facebook Live. “If you want to make a purchase, you will be able to contact us by phone, text or messenger.”
Included will be a 52-inch-by-24-inch oil on canvas, “Island Jam.” The uplifting vibe, warm reds and blues, harkens to vacations past, listening to a live band, dancing in the sand. “I had no idea at all where it was going until I added the central figure of the girl with the tambourine,” Weber tells.
On mixed-media paper is another new piece, “Ying & Yang” (51-inches-by-34-inches). Weber’s signature jungle vibe is apparent as animals take shape and pop in bright colors, abstract lines, brush strokes and dots. The natural world also comes alive in “Land, Sea & Air,” in which a rush of blues and greens enliven the canvas.
“I go back and forth between a very colorful palette to a more monochromatic, somber one,” Weber says. “This really all depends on mood and subject matter.”
“Raven” shows as much, heavy-handed in grays and blacks, with a dash of green or light blue peeking through. Depending on the muse, Weber’s work can be quite varied.
“Both ‘Land, Sea & Air’ and ‘Raven’ are oils on canvas, and started by laying a simple shape of paint on the canvas,” he explains. “Then I just stared at each until something prompted me to make another mark—then each just flowed. They are totally different pieces in regard to color, subject matter and style, but they were both a joy to paint, once I got past the staring. My eyes will actually go buggy on me, as I squint to try and find that little hint of inspiration.”
Weber multitasks with the best of them, usually creating upward of two to three pieces simultaneously. Oils take longer to dry, so he often must walk away to allow ample drying time before returning to add layers. Conversely, his watercolors, acrylics and pen-and-inks are conducive to a quicker pace of work.
“And for pieces that just don’t seem to work, that’s why there is gesso!” he quips. “I just paint over it and try again. It’s rare I know exactly what I will be doing when I go into the studio.”
Weber has been a studio artist at ACME since moving to Wilmington in 2010. Previously, he was mostly a stay-at-home artist, creating works for galleries, primarily in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, while churning out weekly editorial work for 35 years. “A spare bedroom usually became my studio, but I longed to fling paint and not be concerned with how much I spilled on the floor,” he says.
Having never worked outside of his home, much less in a co-op with other artists, was an awakening. It also was encouraging to be among peers. During Weber’s first year at ACME, he participated in a joint show with Karen Paden Crouch.
“We both have a love for the Brothers Grimm and those old children’s stories that were sometimes very frightening,” he says. Titled “New Mythology,” the show included their interpretations of mythology.
“ACME has opened up so much to me, in regard to seeing how other artists work,” he says, “as well as meeting patrons and other artists who come to our Fourth Friday shows. It really is a special place.”
Though he can’t meet in person for May’s Fourth Friday, he hopes the virtual exhibit will still attract viewers. He also understands money may be tight for so many during these uneasy times, which is why he offers clients the opportunity to pay for his work in installments. “Many people really appreciate it,” he says.
Mark Weber | Five Years at ACME
May 22, 6 – 9 p.m.
Facebook Live Virtual Exhibit
Original artwork for sale,