Mark Menendez — Great Artist, Great Teacher
I was browsing online recently, searching for the latest offerings from www.artistsnetwork.tv. I was amazed to see that the featured Artist of the Month was our own Mark Menendez who teaches art in Waynesville.
After verifying this person really was OUR Mark, I read his credits and reviewed his list of instructional courses. I was impressed, but not surprised, that Mark is a nationally known artist and instructor.
He probably doesn’t realize it but I’ve been a fan of his teaching style for some time. Whenever I make my weekly trip to Mary’s Mountain Home Collection to stock up on art supplies, I peek in on Mark’s classes. I remember going to my first watercolor class in St. Louis a good many years ago.
The teacher said “Create!” That was it, no instruction, no nothing! That is not what a student of Mark’s gets in his class. He makes sure that every first time student knows the basics. He does a step-by-step exercise and after the first series of classes the student takes home a painting he can be proud of.
In addition that student knows his colors, brushes, how the medium works and much more. In other words, the student knows the basics of painting and can begin to branch out expressing himself in a more personal way.
Many of his students have never tried to paint until after their retirement and have the leisure time to try to create artistically. I love seeing the look on their face when they see what they have accomplished.
Mark grew up in Tampa, Florida. His family owned a corner grocery and his older brother, Richard, entertained him by encouraging him to draw while his parents worked in the store. After drawing their TV hero, Zorro, Mark was “hooked”. From then on he entertained himself all day at the grocery by drawing.
Mark’s parents were first generation Americans so work requirements meant they didn’t have the time or resources for exposure to many cultural events. The children did have comic books and what a wonderful basis they were as models for learning to draw the human figure.
By the age of 13 he was apprenticed to Mrs. Austin Angle, who taught art to children ages 9-18. She confided to Mark when he was 16 that that he had learned and mastered all that she knew to teach. She then posed a question that would change his life.
“Would he become her assistant and help her teach classes”?
After his first class he realized he loved teaching even more than creating. Later he attended the University of Tampa and found that Mrs. Angle was on par with the university professor!
Oil painting is probably Mark’s first love but he enjoys pastels, acrylics, and watercolors too. He finds a commonality in them all in light, shadow and form. John Singer Sargent is his favorite artist and, not surprisingly, since they are both portraitists. Sargent has inspired Mark by his skill and virtuosity with a brush.
As a painter and teacher Haywood County is a welcomed venue for Mark. “Haywood County not only promotes the arts, as residents and visitors support the arts in a larger way. Excellent examples are the annual Quickdraw event to support art in the public schools, and the Haywood County Arts Council is a vibrant force with their special events and exhibits.
This profile of Mark is timely as I just learned the Haywood County Arts Council will be hosting an exhibition “Mark Menendez-Teacher and Mentor” during the month of August. His work will be exhibited along with paintings by his students.
You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on classes in Florida and national seminars . Mark also teaches in Ellijay Georgia, Franklin and Andrews North Carolina. Be sure to drop by Gallery 86 on Friday, August 1, 6pm-9pm for his exhibition opening reception.