Largely self-taught in a number of creative disciplines—a Pulitzer-prize nominated and award-winning political cartoonist and illustrator as well as a singer/guitarist/songwriter—Mark Giaimo enrolled in his first oil painting class in 2004. Within two years, he was accepted into the Post-Baccalaureate Graduate Program at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where he finished a semester before striking out on his own.
Whether painting still lifes of cheap plastic toys, portraits of friends, cityscape and plein air paintings, or political caricatures, Giaimo mixes the mundane with the sacred and 19th-century painting techniques with contemporary pulp and graphic illustration. His art is both an homage to and satire of the past and present. His new paintings explore the mysterious pastimes of toys—their invisible struggles with life, death, and love.
Paintings, like good music, are an art form that one can return to repeatedly. For me they
often play into one another. I’ll take a break from my art, pick up the guitar and out comes
a riff or the beginning of a song. I chase that for a little while and then return to the
painting. It goes back and forth like that through most of the process.
For 30-odd years I fronted several alt/indie rock bands, with varying degrees of success (or
failure depending on my outlook). When I finally threw in the towel in 2010 and devoted
myself to painting I tried to keep as much distance as possible from music as a subject and
it’s taken me awhile to circle back to it with a little more equanimity.
The still life paintings are meditations of my love of the electric guitar as an aesthetic
object which also conjures up all sorts of memories and feelings. The narrative paintings
are a wry reflection on my life as a musician. Drawing inspiration from the Golden Age of
American Illustration (roughly 1880-1930) as well as contemporary classical realists and
Old Masters, these works are an attempt to make some sense out of my past with what I
hope is a universality that you can relate to.