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Mark Brunke is a multi-media artist from Seattle, Washington.
Mark has been working in different art forms, primarily painting, in fact, there is a really annoying part, just bring it up in a conversation, where he’ll try to say everything is painting, like even breathing, but just keep telling him he’s wrong, and he won’t stop arguing, its super funny, anyway, in different media since the age of 14, when he produced his first comic book, Space Fantasy, while an art student at Las Vegas High School in 1981. In Spring 1982, he began writing poetry, starting with a blank verse interpretation of the Book of Revelation after his X-Men comics were taken away, like right after his birthday. Mark started playing music in the summer of 1983. Mark performed in theater while in high school, and later as a performance artist in the mid-1990s. Mark began working in video in 1994, and 8mm film and direct animation beginning in 1995. Mark had formed a punk rock band in September of his junior year while in high school at Kent-Meridian High School. On the first day of school there were three outcasts sitting together at lunch because they had all worn the same David Bowie Serious Moonlight Tour t-shirt to school on the first day. Bowie had played the Tacoma Dome just a couple weeks earlier. Mark had just bought a guitar, a 1965 Lyle for $35, at the pawn shop on the ground floor of a building of flats in downtown Kent. Except for his time at basic training and tech school in the Air Force, he has played on a nearly daily basis since that day at the pawn shop. As a guitarist/composer, his primary influences are Andy Summers and Jimmy Page... and then Mick Jones, then Jeff Beck, John McGeogh, Stuart Adamson, and Keith Levene, and Mick Ronson, then in equal parts Michael Schenker, Sonny Sharrock, Robert Fripp, Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius, Steve Jones, Steve Vai, Drake Levin, Arlen Roth, Danny Gatton, Eddie Van Halen, Vernon Reid, Bill Frisell, and Marc Ribot. Those are basically the guitarist who made a record he obsessed over. And whoever played on all the pop 45s he had growing up. Lyrically, he is structurally influenced by Lou Reed, Chuck Berry, David Bowie, Greg Ginn, Laura Nyro, and Jim Webb. The thematic content of his lyrics is more related to themes across all the mediums in which Mark uses for expression. He lived above the pawn shop with his mother.
Mark left home in October of his junior year, taking his guitar, a backpack of clothes, and a cassette player and collection of tapes. The tapes were mostly all mix tape of songs recorded off the radio and American Top 40. There were two store bought cassettes, Live at Leeds by the Who and Gold and Platinum by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Mark’s favorite song is Golden Years. Mark moved over by the Green River, into the top floor of his brother Ted’s dad’s place. That’s Dick. Mark’s older brother Kevin had been living there, but just graduated high school and went into the navy. So Mark left home and moved in. Mark had to pay rent, which he did by working in the ice cream truck warehouse in the old bakery where later he becomes an artist… It’s October 1983. There was a unused cabana by the garage. Dick let the band set up in there and have the space. The three of them tried to play Rebel Rebel and couldn’t. Well Mark couldn’t. But it was two Marks and an Eric. So since Mark couldn’t play Rebel Rebel, he just decided to write songs for the band. They got a book on how to play the Monkees at the thrift store, and learned Stepping Stone, but more like The Raiders version, instead, and Mark has basically been rewriting Stepping Stone ever since. And with $30 guitars, and $20 amps, and no PA so you scream, and its all pseudo-Stepping Stone, well then its a punk rock band, isn’t it?
After serving in the United States Air Force, Mark went to college, studying under Bob Short at Green River Community College. Bob was an abtract expressionist and former industrial designer who would spend his time making a rock wall on property near Mount Rainier. The first day of design class, Bob threw a cup of red straws onto the classroom floor and asked everyone what they saw. He asked everyone to see that each of us saw a different arrangement in an otherwise random distribution of information across a visual plane. Each of us had a way to take in the visual information and then organize it into a reality. He told us to understand we are God.
Seriously, that was day 1.
So learning painting under Bob was basically him telling you to paint, just keep painting, and while painting in studio, having serious discussions about the purpose of art.
This was a deeply influential practice on Mark. Mark progressed into his current style after dropping out of college. Well, he planned on taking time off and then to return to following his dream of studying radio. Instead, the painting took over his life when he moved into the old bakery warehouse. He budgeted $7 a week for food, and spent the rest of his unemployment on rent and art supplies. He was showing in a trio of art galleries in Kent and Seattle. However he had two disastrous shows in Pioneer Square in which his work was removed following patron complaints. Mark retreated to an artists cooperative with total artistic control, Art/Not Terminal and has remained there ever since. He sold 1 painting during a solo exhibition in February 1995, but not since. He still misses that painting. And the one of his Grandfather. There’s others as well.
Mark’s painting has been influenced by his other artistic pursuits, but Mark is primarily a visual artist and guitarist. Each painting is an attempt to capture the emotion of a given time or moment, as a brush stroke captures a motion. And yes. Yes, he expresses himself through his guitar solos.
And the poetry. Mark has his own thing going on with the poetry. Seriously, wtf?
His poetry has appeared here and there and at Unshod Quills, in the Edinburgh Companion to Twentieth Century British and American War Literature, Poets Against The War, and one piece was adapted for musical setting for choir and octet, we believe it was an octet, need to check. Turns out that was never produced. It was commissioned by a Choir in Belgium or Denmark or the Netherlands, somewhere, text adapted for basically 12 pieces/voices by composer Timothy J. Brown. Anyway, if anyone wants to do me a solid and fund a recording of that, it would be appreciated.
And he eventually found a job. None of his work is currently for sale, well there’s drawings here and there. He doesn’t have to subject his work to the Capitalist system of misplaced values. Sure, its a compromise to differentiate one form of participation for another, to trade his labor, well, anyway. And the demand for purchase is admittedly low. For that and his poetry. The films, no. Music, no. We’re not sure of the source of the low demand. Mistakes were made. Mark’s inability to rise above is something he attributes to a definite lack of talent and perseverance. And an inability to be serious, really, about what’s important.
Everything can’t just be a joke. Well, it can turn out that way, because, you never know what the end outcome is, and it could all end up it was all a joke.
What if we become energy, and we just keep dissipating? What if that is all the universe is, a dissipating state of us?
Mark began painting in September 1989. Mark dropped out of college in April 1992. Bob had advised Mark as he was dropping out, in the last class they had together, that if he pursued his vision, and he should, there’s a chance he could never sell anything, but he should never stop, and it really helps to go find a job that’s secure so as to establish a consistent practice of painting [Ah Punctuation! O’Neill, Eugene, A. Leslie Cluw Publishing, 1926]. Mark was able to implement this, oh, around 2016. He’s a quick study.
Not that Mark stopped painting, living in loft spaces, room-for-rent housing, shared living, and eventually his own small studio apartment overlooking Pike Street and Harvard Avenue, above a small corner Thai restaurant, in Seattle, Washington by the late 1990s. Mark began showing with the Hazen Gallery in Kent, Washington in the Summer of 1992. Mark had lost his job and was on unemployment. He’d moved into the top floor of an old bakery factory building in downtown Kent, the one by the railroad tracks across from Burdick Feed. The owners of the building let him move into a finished room, a large 20’ x 20’ room with a skylight, the unfinished portion was an open 2500’ sq feet. It was $100 a month. And this was when Mark really began painting.
Mark currently shows his work at the Art/Not Terminal Gallery at the Seattle Center in Seattle, Washington.
Most of the time.
Mark’s music can be purchased through the music thing on here, go there, and there should be a button or directions to something somewhere.
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