Yes, there are some things you just can't learn in school. This painter, glass artist, sculptor and jewelry designer is living proof.
“What surprises most people is that I am predominantly self taught,” Mark says. “I experiment with materials that interest me and use whatever knowledge I can glean from the internet or books. And—of course—happy accidents."
But it's no accident that Mark, of Fairport, finds inspiration in everything he sees. After nearly going blind—twice—during treatment for illness, he has a new appreciation for feasting his eyes on the world around him.
“Just waking up and being able to see,” he says, “To live in the moment and express what I feel as my living. Every waking moment, every sound, every person.”
Mark's work has been shown and sold at several local spots—most recently Tap and Mallet in the city's South Wedge. He's also had his art featured at galleries in Provincetown, Mass., and in Naples and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Still, he's a Rochester-made artist, through and through.
“I've lived here nearly 30 years. I got my start working at Gateway Poster and Framing,” he says of the shop formerly on Goodman Street. “My first show was there, and I sold three pieces.”
After that, he opened a studio across the street at Village Gate.
“About 200 square feet, a few racks of hand-painted t-shirts, a small easel and a sales counter,” he says of his first space. “All located under the stairs.”
“Grammy's restaurant hired me to design and paint their entire place,” he says. “I painted everything from their walls to employees' uniforms.”
Mark aptly decorated the space with wall sculptures made from the innards of pianos, sheet music and dried roses. And it was music to one collector's eyes.
“That's where Louis Perticone found me and started buying my work,” he says.
Perticone, owner of Artisan Works on Blossom Road in Rochester, continues to be a major patron. The vast gallery is also where Mark's found a studio from which to work (about 20 times the size of that under-the-stairs space from the early years).
These days, Mark's also working on helping other local artists and small businesses demonstrate the creative process to the public. He's planning an art festival where visitors can come and see people doing their craft—from painting and sculpture to food, beer and coffee.
Ahhhh, coffee. It's both a favorite elixir and a consistent subject for the artist. Two reasons a sizable collection of his work is about to be shown at Joe Bean Coffee Roasters (event listing below). The show will include painted windows, large canvas paintings, metal sculpture—even a photo wall of scenes Mark has shot from the cafe itself over the past year.
Paint. Metal. Glass. Photography. Why so many different forms?
“I have a lot to say. One medium can't hold all of it,” he says.
But a cozy little coffee shop sure can.
See more: www.markgroaningstudio.com
Say hi: email@example.com
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If you're in the Rochester area, Mark's work now lines the walls of Joe Bean Coffee Roasters, 1344 University Ave., where a reception will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, May 4. The event marks the coffee company's one-year anniversary at the space, and coincides with the monthly, citywide First Friday art party. Mark will be on hand to greet the public.