We recently had the opportunity to interview Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA Artist Mark Mitchell. His diorama, Fountain of Youth, is a satirical piece, poking fun at the tendency of so many aging Floridians who attempt to recapture their former youth
Mark Mitchell is an international artist and painter of Conceptual Pop Art. As a Pratt grad, SVA alum and former advertising creative director, he has spent his entire career honing his visual communication skills. Mitchell’s work has been exhibited during Miami Art Week’s Scope and Select Art Fairs, shared on SEE | ME digital displays at The Louvre and NYC’s Armory Arts Week, selected by pop-surrealism master Ron English for Baton Rouge Gallery and gained west coast exposure at bG Gallery, Santa Monica. Locally, Mark’s paintings have been awarded at Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, Art Festival Beth-El in St Pete and featured on FOX13’s Good Day Tampa Bay. He is also a proud recipient of the Creative Pinellas Emerging Artist Grant 2019-20 and current WADA member.
Read on to learn more about what the experience of being part of our inaugural exhibit is like for him!
What do you want the public to take away from experiencing the FLORIDARAMA diorama you have created for Fairgrounds St. Pete?
MARK MITCHELL: My piece, “Fountain of Youth,” is a kind of dimensional version of my painting style, Conceptual Pop Art. It’s fun, quirky and colorful, with some additional subtext. I always hope viewers take a few extra moments to “look deeper”, appreciate the symbolism and take in the meaning of the piece.
What about being a part of Fairgrounds St. Pete’s inaugural exhibition is most exciting to you?
MP: The opportunity for my work to be surrounded by so many other talented artists’ work is what I find most exciting.
What inspired your Fairgrounds St. Pete FLORIDARAMA?
MM: Our youth-obsessed culture is well known in America, but it seems especially pronounced in Florida. A lot of folks migrate here as a kind of second chapter or reboot to their lives up north (myself included), but there’s also the aspect of trying to recapture our youth. You find it in the beach culture, the dating scene of the divorcees, the old guys with classic hotrods, women with plastic surgery, etc. “Fountain of Youth” is a satire of all that.
What is the most significant influence in your art practice?
MM: Artists I admire, as well as current events. My painting style springboards off the work of classic Pop Artists like James Rosenquist and Tom Wesselman, but with a 21st-century edge by incorporating elements of urban art and social commentary. My subject matter is often ripped from the headlines, addressing social issues and frequently referencing the relationship between technology and human behavior.
Besides Fairgrounds St. Pete, do you have an upcoming project you’d like to share?
MM: I’ve been participating in local group shows this summer at Atelier de Sosi and Five Deuces Galleria, and am really looking forward to exhibiting at the Creative Pinellas Arts Annual this fall.
What advice would you give your younger self?
MM: Make the effort to find more time to create! I got caught up in my NYC advertising career for years, and have been making up for lost time on my personal work ever since I relocated to St Pete.
What is your favorite FL destination or landmark?
MM: Well, I love where I live, and the beach is my happy place! I’m also partial to Sanibel Island—I’ve really loved vacationing there over the years.