This mixed media collaboration has emerged over time from the fine art of Mary Mark and the dedication of Mary Mark, David Johnson and Lost Steeple Originals, their studio, to the values and life style of the American arts and crafts movement. They share with that movement a cultural emphasis on the creation of fine arts crafted by hand from indigenous materials at prices affordable to all. Ms. Mark's artistic vision has also emerged from the 19th & 20th century arts and crafts movement with its pre-Raphaelite influences. Mix together the funky perspectives of Cezanne, the saturated colors of Matisse, the stylized botanicals of William Morris merge these into the expressive black line of Munch and Baskin; next add David's wood working skills uniting the design of the image into the finished framing; lastly add a peppering of the irreverent attitude of Picasso and the determination and self contained feminism of Georgia O'Keefe; and that unique palette that is Mary Mark's distinctive artistry becomes a full arts and crafts collaboration.
All of the frames are hand made, joined from raw wood mouldings often poplar cut to David's profile designs by a local mill shop. The finishes are made from a variety of sources, from aniline dyes to composite gilts to acrylic paint. They are created piece by piece to match the individual artworks and are all hand applied in LSO's studios. The matting and mounting is all archival and of museum quality. The enhancements are acrylic and sealed by the finishes.
The expression of Mary's reduction block prints must by necessity include the revival of traditional craft. The demands and limitations of the reduction linoblock process both retard and advance the development of the final image. Printmaking entails not just the making of a work of fine art, but he making of an intermediary work of art, the matrix, which in turn will make the art. The message of layered color, perspective and concentrated design elements of the image emerges from a thousand cuts of the block and multiple printings of the paper. The recarving and reprinting of the block with as many as 20 colors inevitably lead to its self-destruction. The image registration on the paper must endure the press' pressure for those 20 reprintings along with climate variations over the printing period and yet register the detailed image to the last color. The palette of over printed semi-transparent inks must be controlled to produce the compositional intention and the proper pressure balance across the face of the plate in order not to irregularly stretch the paper. The engineering and artistic challenge subjugates the manufacture of the matrix as the final image emerges from the process in spite of its limits. It is the fine art of Mary Mark inside the hand crafted quality and finishing eye of David Johnson.