Art professor Mark Perlman is a renowned Sonoma County artist who has been teaching painting for 25 years at SSU, impacting many students lives and careers. In his studio, above, he works with the encaustic technique that is his signature style.
SSU Art Professor Mark Perlman has been committed to abstraction throughout much of his career. His work, like that of any good artist, continues to grow and evolve.
A 25-year survey of his work is now on exhibit in the University Art Gallery through Dec. 15. Displayed are assortments of paintings and other works on paper, which journal Perlman's ongoing work as a professional artist in the years since he came to SSU in 1988.
The entire exhibition is a rare opportunity to see a quarter century's worth of work by one of Sonoma County's most original and influential artists.
Darker and relatively monochromatic paintings from the late 1980s and 1990s share wall space in the Art Gallery with more recent and colorful works. Recognizable imagery has made periodic appearances in the paintings, sometimes more often--and more prominently--than others.
What unites most of Perlman's work is his use of the ancient technique of encaustic--the suspension of colored pigments in a solution of melted wax. The material gives the surfaces of his paintings a luminosity and depth not possible with oil paints alone.
"Over the years I have been continually fascinated and in search of combining luminosity with the layered surface of buried or forgotten images.
In an attempt to record my present and past thoughts and memories, I place as many images, markings and words as possible into the process of each painting. I am continually editing myself in hopes of reaching a balance of noise and solitude.
The images and textured surfaces represents the energy and activity level I experience throughout the day, while the light and open space of the paintings signifies the more reflective moments."
Gallery director Michael Schwager says Perlman's work rewards slow and careful viewing and functions as a sort of visual diary of the artist's lengthy and complex process--"the longer you look, the more you see."
A process based on discovery, for both the artist and the viewer, is a key component, said Schwager. He says Perlman attempts to keep his paintings fresh, always searching for a different image, mark or color combination that he has yet to use in a preceding painting.
"He freely admits that he is 'never completely sure where each painting is going after it is started,' and depends on impulse as much as conscious decisions to guide him."
Mark Perlman is represented in hundreds of public and private collections throughout the world. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts personal artist grants, as well as numerous awards throughout the country.
In addition to exhibiting with the Bill Lowe Gallery for over ten years, he has had solo exhibitions in Japan and Russia, as well as dozens of galleries throughout the United States. Those who find Perlman's work in their collections range from actress Halle Berry, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., the Gap's corporate offices and those at International Business Machines.
Perlman was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA in 1950. He completed his undergraduate degree from Eastern Michigan in 1974 and his MFA from West Virginia University in 1978. Perlman received two N.E.A. grants that allowed him to develop his studio practices until he got his first teaching job at Thiel College in Pennsylvania.
He taught there for five years and moved to El Paso where he taught painting at U.T.E.P.
Five years later he was heading up the painting program at SSU, a stint that ends this year after impacting hundreds of art students and their careers. Typically Perlman, he highlighted their work in an exhibit in the gallery earlier this semester.
Perlman is also represented in hundreds of collections throughout the U.S. and abroad.
He currently lives in Sebastopol with his wife Ina. They have a daughter, Ashley who is n25 and works in San Francisco.
The University Art Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday, noon-4 p.m. on weekends and closed on Mondays and holidays. For more information, call (707) 644-2295 or e-mail Carla Stone at email@example.com.
For more information about Mark Perlman visit http://www.markperlman.net
A interview with Perlman by Bohemian art reporter Gretchen Giles can be found at:
Journey, Mark Perlman