by Tom Waters
Standing behind some visitors who were admiring a painting by Mark Boedges recently I was struck by their comment, addressed to the subject of the painting. The painting, “Along Old Hollow” depicts a run-down home along a back road in winter. The detritus of country living is piled up outside. It’s gritty, and complex, full of texture, variety and muted color. Their observation was about how the work was “authentic”. While the comment was directed at the authenticity of the scene, a common one in rural Vermont, it could have been directed at every aspect of Boedges’ practice of making art.
Often quoted as being drawn to “the grittiness, cragginess and layered, fine-grained texture of the natural world”, many of Mark’s paintings are of the less-showy aspects of the landscape. Through Mark’s eyes, and his painting, you are exposed to the beauty of subjects often overlooked, but no less worthy of appreciation. It could be the backside of a vernacular Vermont farmhouse, rail cars sidelined on the track, the inside of a woodworker’s garage and workshop, or an abandoned fishing boat. In each case the authenticity of the scene asserts itself.
It’s not that Mark ignores the more commonly considered ‘beautiful’ aspects of the environment. His paintings of the Colorado Mountains, Vermont barns, fields, woods, and notably his paintings of forested streams and waterfalls are sought after and highly prized. What all these paintings share is a devotion to rendering complexity simply, color accurately, and light realistically. Look at any painting by Mark Boedges and you come away awed by the effectiveness of how he captures so much detail with so little complication. His approach may involve layering, scratching, splattering of paint and the use of various brushes to make a myriad of marks which introduce interactions and effects that convey the complexity of textures and surfaces. Resulting in a beautifully harmonious finished piece.
Born in St. Louis in 1973, Mark’s path to where he finds himself now began as a child who loved to draw. All throughout school he showed talent and enthusiasm for drawing, and eventually painting. Art as a career option was not something he considered however, and he attended college in Kansas City as a civil engineering major. He later switched and received his degree in philosophy. It was here in college that he began to explore painting en-plein-air and kindling his love of art.