By Nancy E. McCarthy
Wildlife and nature are prominent themes in the work of fine artist Mark Stash of Rushville, and he doesn’t need to wander far to discover picturesque settings to capture on canvas. Fresh landscapes are abundant near his home in the Finger Lakes Region and on his adventures to the Adirondacks, where he often travels to camp, hike and kayak.
Mark sometimes paints plein air (outdoors) but mostly takes photos for inspiration to bring back to Stash Art Works, his home studio and gallery. “I love to paint light and how it makes ordinary scenes suddenly extraordinary,” he says.
A solo exhibit of Mark’s realistic watercolor and impressionistic acrylic pieces will be on display in the Ewing Family Community Room at Wood Library in Canandaigua from January 7 through February 16, 2016.
An artist on his way
Mark was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the youngest of nine children. “From the moment I could hold a pencil I loved to draw,” he says. Encouraged by his parents, Mark took lessons with local artist Sue Hand whom he credits as an early, and significant, influence. As he honed his own style, Mark admired the work of Western artists Charlie Russell and Frederic Remington, Pennsylvania wildlife artist Ned Smith and master impressionists Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh.
After graduating from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1988, Mark worked at the venerable Highlights for Children magazine in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, in graphic design, production and illustration. During that time he met his future wife, Carol Cronise, a physical therapist originally from the town of Greece in Rochester. The couple relocated temporarily to New Mexico to experience western living before moving closer to family in New York.
In 1993, Mark took a graphic artist position with Fahy-Williams Publishing in Geneva and quickly moved up to art director. He is now production manager and part-owner of the company which publishes a variety of magazines including Life in the Finger Lakes, a publication launched by Mark and his business partner Tim Braden in 2001. Between a busy publishing career, owning a magazine and a lively family life raising daughter Amelia and son Gabriel, Mark’s own artistic pursuits often simmered on the back burner.
Hitting the trail
In 2011, Mark began to once again channel more time and energy into painting and drawing when he joined the Naples Open Studio Trail, a collective of Finger Lakes artists. The group welcomes the public to visit their art studios during their signature event, The Studio Trail, held annually during the first weekend in October. Throughout the weekend, guests are invited to explore the variety of artwork displayed, demonstrated and sold by each artist.
“The trail has jump-started my art career,” Mark says. “It gives me goals and deadlines, which I really need in order to create art.” His work is also sold at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, Artizanns in Naples and other local outlets.
Maggie and Neil Atkins of Canandaigua own two of Mark’s acrylic landscape pieces: a South Hill Road view in Naples and a field with hay bales overlooking Canandaigua Lake at sunset. The couple also acquired a trilogy of small woodland flora images created in watercolor which Maggie describes as “delicate, detailed and full of light.”
“We enjoy finding a piece that resonates with us and delight when it has been produced locally,” she says.
No doubt art lovers will continue to discover Mark and his outdoor-themed works. After reporting on the burgeoning local arts scene within the pages of Life in the Finger Lakes magazine for 15 years, Mark Stash is now a vibrant part of it.
To learn more visit, stashartworks.com.