I remember the first time I met Mark Wiener. I had been uptown looking at galleries with my friend and colleague Mark Zimmermann and he wanted me to meet a group of artists he had recently been introduced to. It was at a French bistro on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and like the weather this week it had just gotten cold from an extended summer. Mark was there with his partner Linda DiGusta and a few others, Ron Gorchov among them who I had met at a dinner party a year before. The conversation roamed around the art world. Something that Mark and Linda seemed to do effortlessly. We talked about specific artworks, certain individual artists, ideas and the why and what for that only a group of artists can have.
Over the intervening years I ran into Mark often with the other Mark at openings. A couple of years ago Mr. Zimmermann and I went to Mark and Linda’s studio. I’m always reticent to visit studios, especially of people I like. To my surprise his work was something I could soak up. The work I saw was primarily black and white and this limitation made incredibly strong images. It was obvious that although they had a large for Manhattan studio on West 21st Street, he had outgrown it.
We friended on Facebook and I watched his work evolve. He kept to his parameters but he found a flow that the earlier work didn’t have. I can honestly say that the work I saw in the last year was his best, in my humble opinion.
About six months ago he contacted me, having seen some of my recent work and suggested a studio visit. I was on my way out of town for several months, we decided that when I got back we’d connect. I did return. As it goes, having been away for a while, I was busy getting myself, my studio, my home back in working order. Then a few weeks after I returned there was The Chelsea Open studios. I decided to just show up and catch up with Mark at his studio. As per usual, it was crowded with both artists and collectors. Mark though overwhelmed with his crowd made a point of welcoming me in and asking about my residency. He also had figured out that I was behind ArtOrbiter.com, he never told me how. We talked and I was happy to see some of his new work. I didn’t stay as long as I’d have liked, the sky had blackened in a threat as I walked over and he had other people to speak to. I invited him and Linda to brunch a week or so after that.
Brunch became the studio visit that we never got to have with just us talking about the work quietly together. It was a fine visit, Linda brought fruits and vegetables from her still life works. I was able to spend time with both of them and the work. It was in my mind just a prelude to our next studio visit. That was postponed till after the Governors Island Art Fair which Mark and Linda had good things to say about.
As it turns out I never got to have that next studio visit with Mark. I found out early this morning of his passing. I ran into Linda early in September one Thursday evening on my rounds and she said Mark had been sick, and still planned on getting out to Governors Island one of the remaining weekends. I thought nothing of it. I assumed it was something that he’d kick and that I’d see him again.
I didn’t know Mark that well. Maybe not well enough to be writing this. I did however feel a connection through our work. I felt that we were getting to know one another as colleagues and that in time we would continue to get to know each other.
My heart goes out to Linda, I rarely saw one without the other. Mark and Linda had that thing between them, when you saw them, you could tell they were happy together. A rare thing inside and outside of, the art world they inhabited together.
Rest in peace friend.
Mark’s Artwork here
Mark and Linda’s online magazine here