“John Marak: Let it Be,” MLB Designs & Boutique

John Marak, “Untitled 142,” mixed media 48″ X 36″

The peace and power of earth, air, fire and water inspire the works in John Marak’s current show, “Let it Be,” at MLB Designs and Boutique in the Crossroads.

For his fifth annual exhibit at the gallery, Marak created nearly 70 new works; most are untitled. In his abstract paintings and streamlined columnar sculptures, his vision, process and choice of media converge to connect earth’s essential building blocks.

Simultaneously enigmatic and tangible, Marak’s visual notes to nature allude to its contrasting expressions and ceaseless transformation. The ocean’s infinite movement, coarse bark from deep-rooted trees, smoldering embers after a fire, amorphous fog and more are implied in the mixed-media collection.

Influenced by Wabi-sabi, a Japanese world view distinguished by the acceptance of transience and imperfection, Marak creates metaphors for life’s inevitable change. Wabi refers to anomalies that arise in the creative process which distinguish an object; sabi refers to beauty or serenity that comes with age, along with an acceptance of life’s impermanence.

Marak embraces both in his process.

John Marak, “Untitled 142,” mixed media 48″ X 36″

“As I work through a new piece, things change from my original intention. I take advantage of the new direction that unfolds and capitalize on the imperfections,” he said. “And, I try not to overthink it.

“I want to recreate the wear and tear of nature’s process and create a sense of mystery in the object. I have techniques that allow me to accentuate all of the nooks and crannies and bring those imperfections out a little more. The patina is really important to me.”

Marak’s other building blocks include plaster on board, acrylic and oil, sand, copper and other metals. These are integrated with industrial elements, including sheet metal, cement and acrylic in often highly textured paintings.

This weaving of natural and industrial media extends to Marak’s sculptures in “Let it Be.” Both elegant and organic, his tall, narrow columnar “Pyloons” are constructed from concrete and wrapped in tinted plaster and copper. For both paintings and sculpture, Marak often chooses muted earth tones. Though he explored a more extended palette in his recent pieces, the hues and tones remain subtle.

“John Marak: Let it Be” continues at MLB Designs & Boutique, 2020 Baltimore Ave., through Oct. 26. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on First Fridays. For more information, 816-531-3133 or www.mlbdesigns.com.

Anne Marie Hunter

Anne Marie Hunter is a writer and photographer who holds a B.S. in speech and art history from Northwestern University and a M.A. in Art Education from Southern Oregon University. Her work includes newspaper, magazine and corporate photography and writing assignments and projects. You can view and read her work at annemariehunter.com.

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