Marc Shereck keeps busy. Step into The Bridge Gallery for his new exhibition Transect and you will face no shortage of feelings, textures or thoughts to latch onto.
Shereck has spent the past six months putting this show together, roughly 50 pieces themed around the American Southwest that celebrate the region’s Indigenous peoples, culture and natural beauty. “[Transect is] about movement from point A to point B and not standing still doing the same thing. It’s constantly moving, constantly learning and seeing and doing and creating new work every day,” he says. “I think there’s a big ‘why’ in everybody’s life, so this is my ‘why.’ It’s why I get up in the mornings, why I have a purpose right now, is to try to put some graphic stories together.”
“I have a hard time standing still, so I keep moving and trying new things." — Marc Shereck
Shereck grew up in a bohemian household and drew airplanes and knights in armor as a kid, but he didn’t take the craft seriously until 12 years ago when he retired as an urban designer. “I was always used to graphic elements and explaining plans, so it always kept my hand active, but I never considered it something you enjoy,” he says. These days, Shereck has a very different relationship with art. “The activity of going up in the studio every night… I need to do that. That’s my therapy; it’s not work.”
For a set of these paintings, Shereck utilized implements made from the broken and hammered-off ends of plants from his wife’s garden, inspired by the way native peoples of New Mexico would paint on pottery without the use of brushes. “What’s so interesting about these is that you do not control these, these tools control you,” he says.
Transect doesn’t stick to any particular format either, as plasma-cut sculptures pop from the gallery’s shelf. “I have a hard time standing still, so I keep moving and trying new things.”
While nearly all of these works are paintings, they employ different mediums that carry and move his paints and inks differently. One piece — of exhausted Native warriors on horseback — is painted on graph paper, inspired by ledger art he saw in Santa Fe. Those works, by Indigenous art students, were painted directly onto unused tax ledgers, hotel sign-in sheets and other work forms. Transect even features his interpretation of the Three Sisters — beans, squash and maize, interdependent crops that were so vital to the Southwest’s Indigenous peoples.
In his travels, Shereck observed the interweaving of cultures that came with colonialism, the blending of Indigenous, Hispanic, German, French, Italian and then American elements into the expression of the land and its peoples. Several of his pieces are lessons learned about plazas: places where people could gather to conduct business or finesse local governing, something that didn’t come as a surprise to an artist who was once an urban designer.
In the same way that those cultures blended to create the art that can be observed and experienced in the Southwest today, Transect is the result of Shereck’s experiences, of his own sensory fusion. “What I see in the world, in that transect as you move from point A to point B, is people, landscape, trees, hearing sounds,” he says. Shereck shows off fine-edged pieces based on migrant butterflies or landscapes composed of painted wooden strips. “As you go, it’s like you were walking on a path. You’re actually bisecting that path; you have a right eye and a left eye. What comes together in your mind at the end of that journey is from all these experiences on the left and on the right.”