COURTESY BOB MARKELL | Artist Bob Markell in his studio.
Shelter Island is home to more than 40 painters, sculptors and photographers, according to a recent informal and by no means comprehensive tally by the Reporter staff. Some names will be well known to Islanders, others less so, but we decided to introduce them all to Reporter readers. This week we feature Bob Markell.
Can the public view your art at any particular location?
The public can view my art at the Senior Center, Kyle’s on Route 114, or by calling me at home for an appointment and visiting my studio. I do enjoy the reaction and discussions if I am present and especially the sales that may follow.
Do you specialize in one specific type of art? What is your favorite medium?
I suppose most people would say I specialize in painting (or etching and monoprints) of the female nude. That’s not the totality of my work as I love landscapes (especially of Shelter Island) and some adventurous still lifes.
I’ve recently discovered Golden Acrylics and am painting again. Acrylic on a wood or board surface … not canvas.
Where is the most interesting place you’ve seen your art displayed?
The most interesting place I’ve seen my art displayed is in the various galleries on the North and South forks, but gallery life is a bit less available in these times.
Where would you most like to see it?
I am always pleased and interested when I see my work in the homes of collectors. The work takes on a different life. I hope my art is not passive but alive, and not generic images but new ways to see the subject.
What inspires your art?
What inspires my art is simply the beauty of the color, lines, and combination of all to create an emotion, or attitude to the viewer, who also must work to really be involved. I am not an abstract artist so the models must convey some emotion as must the landscapes. I do use color and perhaps even exaggerate to reach this point.
You ask: “Why be an artist on Shelter Island?” Well, simply because I live here and find many other artists whom I respect and like and can share my thoughts with. Another reason is the beauty of the Island. I used to be outside often but since ticks and I do not get along, I no longer am a plein-air artist and use my studio more.
What is your biggest challenge as an artist?
My biggest challenge as an artist is to get on the panels or paper what is in my head and to see what others do not see so I can share with them a new way to look at life. Before spending my time as an artist, to earn my living (which is a big challenge to any artist) I designed and produced many TV shows, and if you look up the list of my work you’ll see trying to reach the audience with a new experience and a new way to look at their lives was the same challenge as painting — just different tools. Many of the shows were controversial and challenging but those were the days when an audience actually listened and participated — no car chases, only ideas and emotion. I can only hope and wish the viewers of my art now will take the time to be moved in some way. Hey, even hating my work is an emotion and that’s something.
What is your greatest joy as an artist?
My greatest joy is to accomplish the above and also the tactile pleasure of the paint on a brush, painting away to some great jazz in the background.
Who is your favorite artist?
I have so many favorite artists it’s ridiculous. Matisse and all the Fauves; Richard Diebenkorn and the whole San Francisco group; the German and Austrian expressionists Egon Schiele, Gustave Klimt, Kokoshka, etc.; and the Americans Edward Hopper and the Ash Can School. I mustn’t forget Gauguin, Manet, Goya. I’ll stop now — they all move me. Before I forget, there is also August Mosca … .