The first sentence of local Baltimore artist Mark Cottman’s vision, entitled Art for a Conscious Mind, is the driving force behind his work both creatively and personally. “Through my art and words I feel it’s necessary to put something of meaning in this world.” It is from this effort that he opened the Mark Cottman Gallery in Historic Federal Hill where he creates and displays his art. While the subject matter and medium often changes, a constant in Cottman’s work is his use of vibrant color combinations and brush movements that create an impactful journey for the eye within each frame.
When we were done exploring the space, we sat down to talk with Mark about what inspires him.
Visit Baltimore: What experiences have shaped you as an artist?
Mark Cottman: I always noticed a lot of details about life. Before I did this full time I spent 12 years in stand up comedy. Instead of picking up a brush and describing things, I made jokes about them. I’ve always looked at life with some humor and my own version of detail.
VB: What about Baltimore inspires you?
Mark: I like the movement of it, the evolution of it, the edginess of it. I take that edginess and energy and translate it into visuals just like my Baltimore piece… The Star-Spangled Banner was written out in the Inner Harbor. It shows a piece of Baltimore pride and was a wonderful adventure to create. But even more wonderful is seeing people experience it.
VB: What can visitors expect when they visit your gallery?
Mark: Everyone always talks about the energy when they come to the gallery. I want people to feel like when they are visiting my gallery, they are visiting my home. Relaxing. Having a conversation and just taking the art in because what I feel I have to offer is the “pause.” I think we pause to look at things. What I think artists do is take that pause and manifest it into other things so people can experience it. People can walk through the gallery and see a picture of a flower, they can see all the different colors and shapes, and then the next time they see a real flower they might take the time to look at it.
Want to experience the pause? Currently at the gallery, “The Feeling of Jazz 2,” is a celebration of “America’s original music.” From Bird to Satchmo, Miles Davis to Hank Mobley, the collection is as much an enjoyable history lesson of the “who’s who” of Jazz as an art exhibition. Check out the Mark Cottman Gallery online where you can purchase your favorite prints (and even have them custom framed) or visit in person for a chat with Mark himself. Just make sure to tell him we sent you!
Mark Cottman Gallery
1014 S. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21230
Neighborhood: Federal Hill