VODKA O’CLOCK 2020-05:
“MARC MANIAC” EVAN
AMBER LOVE 16-SEP-2020 My work is supported by the generous backers at Patreon.com/amberunmasked who appreciate my reviews and my stories; and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast.
PUMPKIN CARVING AS A BUSINESS & ART FORM
I am over-the-moon elated that I had the opportunity to talk to master pumpkin carver and fellow comic geek, Marc Evan from Maniac Pumpkin Carvers. The Maniac brand is the love child of Marc and his best friend since high school, Chris Soria. I swear Marc could add being a psychic to his resume because he was answering questions I had written down before I got to ask them. One hour is not enough time for me to pick Marc’s brain. Maybe someday I’ll get to interview Chris as well (technical difficulties interfered today) because I could go on for days asking artists about their process, influences, societal impacts, and the business.
From the beginning of Marc and Chris’ introduction with the Halloween business, they had high school art teachers who encouraged them. They had the chance to create haunted houses for school. This is a dream for kids who love making art and not getting into arguments with teachers about wasting time drawing during class. Their art and love of creating was supported.
As soon as Wired did a piece on them, things from a business perspective shot out of the gates. They were able to hire staff to do all the non-carving aspects. When you read through their website, you’ll find how the gears that spin through a creative company are people who put so much love into their tasks from locally sourcing pumpkins from several farms to using the pumpkin flesh and seeds ethically.
The Ephemeral Qualities:
Working with an organic substance like the vegetable pumpkin (or perhaps you’re into making elaborate cakes and candies), is that as an artist, you must accept and feel content knowing your art is going to vanish.
“We work in many different mediums, but we love pumpkin. And part of our love of pumpkin is that it’s perishable. There’s beauty in things that are impermanent — and non-attachment, it’s something we get really philosophical about pumpkins.” – Mark Maniac
Marc describes the pumpkin “meat” as being a unique, skin-like substance which allows light to pass through in a way that other substances don’t.
The team has made celebrity appearances on places like Food Network, Good Morning America, and at the Martha Stewart offices. Marc said he and Chris find it so funny when two months out of the year, they are more likely to be recognized out in public. They are also well known for non-pumpkin art which takes precedence the whole rest of the year. Marc shared a lovely story about a fan spotting him on the subway.
Public Art & Sentiment:
The Maniac team work hard on making murals several storeys high. While some art is meant to be temporary, other times it’s not. Sometimes another artist can come along and add to what’s already there (ex: Wall Street’s Fearless Girl vs the Bull).
“The artist creates the work with whatever meaning and intention they set for it, but the viewer completes the work because no matter what you put into it, you show it to a hundred different people and they’ll give you a hundred different meanings for that artwork.” – Mark Maniac
In a different example, New York City’s Central Park recently unveiled a brand new statue, The Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument, that was supposed to honor the history of the women’s suffrage movement; unfortunately, the statue does not reflect history. Artist Meredeth Bergmann sculpted Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton with Sojourner Truth, who was born a slave in Swartekill, N.Y., before escaping to freedom in 1826. These women would not have sat down together to make a proclamation since the fight for women’s right to vote was more about the right for white women’s right to vote. This seems to be missed by the people who commissioned the “first statue of real women” for Central Park.
New Art Outreach Through Technology:
Marc also connects to other artists during this bizarre 2020 time of the pandemic through an online art studio/conference called the Vision Train. It was started by Amanda Sage as a community or open-source project. And the art world being what it is — I knew the project sounded familiar because I had seen my friend Serenity Meg Cocho post about it. It turns out my friend Meg designed the Vision Train website!
Maniac carvers have tried to stay ahead of trends and always be adaptable. This year has pushed up some of their plans like hosting online carving classes.
Art has always worked as a way to heal people through its therapeutic process. Marc said art has always been his therapy. He and Chris have also worked with an organization called Groundswell Murals in the city for at-risk or underprivileged youth to have access to art. They work together on a jam design and then bring it to life that are important representations of their community. It taught the kids leadership skills and team-building through the empowerment of art.
From Maniac Pumpkins:
Maniac Pumpkins have been displayed at The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, Yankee Stadium, and across all forms of media each Fall. Appearances include Good Morning America, Rachael Ray, The Kitchen, The Chew, Martha Stewart, Wired, Popular Mechanics, Yahoo News, CNN, and so many more. Each year they continue to elevate the art of pumpkin carving. Winners of Food Network’s Halloween Wars, they have impressed viewers worldwide, with their carving skills and talents. Our Artist Series has also been recognized by the Museum of Modern Art. For the past 7 years we had the honor of reinterpreting a famous work of art on display at the museum.
His artwork and illustrations have also appeared in movies by Joel Schumacher, Rob Reiner, and others; music videos for Beyonce, Slash, and Eminem; and he has designed commercials for Mercedes, Sprite, and LG. Marc’s artwork has been featured in the prestigious Society of Illustrators’ Museum of American Illustration.