Some artists prefer paint, some clay...but in the realms that Mar dwells in, everything is pretty much fair game. If you have seen blobby kittens around town or a giant pink foam cat, or perhaps a giant beetle battling a turtle, then you have seen the work of Mar. A local illustrator, designer, painter, muralist, tinkerer, hacker type, and creator of vaguely cat shaped baubles. Mar works internationally in a number of fine art and digital mediums, and has painted walls from Denver to Beijing. They hold an interest in the artistic applications of emerging technology as well as cats, plants, bugs,and queer stuff.
Mar has chaired hackerspaces, created art for DEFCON hacking conference for the past decade, held a residency at the Denver Art Museum, and co-founded the former non-profit arts space, Cabal Gallery. Currently Mar is creating on patreon - patreon.com/spux and we were lucky to catch up with them as they cranked out some new bookmarks and other goodies for friends and followers.
Mar on Art, Books, and Libraries
- What book as a kid influenced your imagination to pick up a crayon and begin making art?
Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág - I loved that book as a kid. The illustrations were wonderful to me then and still wonderful as an adult. I'm not sure if that book started everything, but I never did stop drawing cats and I'm sure that book was at least partly responsible.
A few years ago, I did an art collaboration with my kid, who was probably 3 or 4 at the time, for a DPL art show called "Uncovered" about that book. (Note: Sean Ryerson, creator of the Ex Libris series, was the curator!)
- What book are you currently reading that influences you in either a creative way or a professional way?
I've been reading a lot of foraging field guides honestly. I picked up the hobby over the pandemic. A little bit adjacent to that, I've only just cracked Braiding Sweetgrass. I've spent most of my life disconnected from my own family's Choctaw history, in part by being mixed and very much white passing in a family that doesn't quite share my lack of melanin. I think that sense of not quite belonging has gotten in the way of me really connecting to indigenous arts out there in the community. So on a creative and professional level, I'd say that reading books by Indigenous authors can help me understand the varied histories and identities out there, and find my footing in my own cultural identity and how to express it.
- What do you think is the most important resource that Libraries provide to you as an artist?
Headspace. Libraries to me have always been a welcoming quiet place to just exist and let my mind wander. With all the pressure to consume and hustle saturating our daily lives, libraries are incredibly important. I don't think I could really be creative at all without a sense of sanctuary. I've worked heavily in hackerspaces/makerspaces for the past decade, and I love that a lot of libraries these days have their own makerspaces and provide the tools to create things that people might not have access to otherwise. There's a feeling of freedom to explore and dream things up in libraries, and we (society in general) need more of that.
- What is your current/favorite/most-used branch of the Denver Public Library?
I don't have one in particular, but the Central Downtown branch is pretty wonderful. The makerspace they set up for teens and kids is amazing and I never have trouble finding books about the bugs and flora I use in some of my works there, they also have a really cool graphic novel section.
- If you were offered a gigantic wall on the outside of a Library, what would your paint to display what a library means to you?
If I had a wall outside a library, I'd paint something from the perspective of small things - bugs, plants etc. I grew up on Reading Rainbow, and I think about the intro where we follow the butterfly creating imaginary worlds. There's something to that imagery of what we perceive as small perspectives or hints of something more, capable of creating something larger and more fantastic.
Ex Libris: Denver Artists is a series featuring local street artists, focusing on their connection to books and the importance of libraries to the artistic community. Series concept and interview by Sean Ryerson.