We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Licari and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, what inspires you?
Guitar feedback effects, outer space, rocketry, and the depths of the sea are constantly inspiring, but inspiration is slippery. When you find it and squeeze too hard it slips away. Inspiration is also potentially everywhere but at the same time nowhere, so I’m always looking for it. I find myself constantly researching the subjects of science, nature, ecology, growth, and impermanence. Ideas for artworks pop up during these investigations. Although sometimes the best inspiration is to turn up the music and just start slinging the paint around. The process of experimenting with materials is also a source of inspiration in itself.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have recently been finishing up a series of works on paper for an exhibition at Baldwin Gallery in Aspen, Colorado that opens July 30th. The drawings were inspired by a recent article in the LA Times about a buffalo herd living on Catalina Island. This sent my thoughts spinning, what a bizarre place for buffalo. As I continued to do research on Islands and their delicate ecosystems I began to realize that humanity’s fascination with Islands is both ancient and ongoing. This rich history of seafaring stories, myths and legends involving islands and the curious creatures that inhabit them sent my imagination running. The balance of island ecology and the myriad of magical stories involving islands became the inspiration for my own island themed scenarios that explore the precarious balance of our man-made and natural world.
I also have a series of twenty-six small drawings included in the group exhibition Marking Time: What Athenaeum Artists Create in Quarantine May 15th-July 9, 2021 at The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla. Each Drawing represents a letter of the alphabet with a corresponding descriptive word. These words tell a story of adaptation, growth, impermanence, resilience and decay, which is as varying and unstable as our ability to communicate with one another.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My first thought about this made me want to fire up the DeLorean and go back in time to hang at Al’s bar, and eat at El Conquistidor and El Chavo (not in the same day of course). In the pre-social media days people used to keep secrets and I think everyone in LA at least perceived that they knew ‘a secret place,’ and I miss that. Even the secret concrete stairs throughout Hollywood and Batman’s bat cave aren’t so secret anymore, but still cool. Here are a few of my current day must do non-secrets:
Ride bikes down The Strand to Quality Seafood at the Redondo Pier and eat fresh lobsters, crabs, sea urchins, clams and oysters with buckets of cold beer.
Feng Mao BBQ Lamb Kebab
La Cabaña in Venice
Dodger game (bring your own burrito, do it, you will be so happy)
The cactus garden at The Huntington Botanical Gardens.
And last, and the least secret, Musso and Frank martinis. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Not to demystify being an artist, but you just learn it, constantly, on the job. I quit the piano when I was about nine years old, so I had to learn something else. My parents encouraged me to follow my interests and art was always one of them. However, being an artist only came into focus because I had many excellent teachers in all different subjects that taught me how to think. Parents and teachers shape how you think and feel, and art is where I have learned to channel my thoughts and feelings about the world.