The latest exhibit at the Endless Mountains Council of the Arts gallery has so much variety, one would think that it features the work of many artists.
But the examples of linocut, linocut and watercolor, pen and ink, silkscreen, and mixed medium are all the product of artist Mark S. Ciocca of Old Forge.
“I try. I really do try to share a level of competency with others. I just like the variety of medium,” Ciocca explained during the opening reception of his work on Sunday.
The exhibit is on display at the gallery on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon through Nov. 26.
“One thing ties everything together,” Ciocca said. “That’s the use of line. It’s like a thread illustrating a print. Or like a tapestry following a line. That’s the basic structure of linework.”
Ciocca, an artist for 50 years, added that he likes to constantly push in various mediums, always seeking to better himself.
“I started drawing stick figures when I was 5 years old, while traveling with my mother in a train in Germany,” he said. “Today, I’m still working with lines.”
Ciocca has art degrees from Keystone College and Kutztown University, and teaches high school level art in the Pocono Mountain School District.
“It boggles my mind that as a kid I was never told that I could make it as an artist,” he explained. “But sometimes, when you’re passionate, it comes together.”
One can’t help but note certain political themes in some of Ciocca’s work on display at the exhibit. This, he explained, forms some of the ‘present’ parts of his work.
“It’s my take on the something without being personal,” he explained. “Both sides of the political spectrum are represented.”
One work, titled ‘Holding a Flame to Intolerance,’ is a mixed medium depicting a skeleton giving a Nazi salute. A vulture sits on top of the Capitol building, and a post has signs of the names of presidents from Trump to Reagan. The top sign reads “D.C. Swamp.”
“If there were more room on the post I would have included it down to Richard Nixon,” Ciocca explained.
Nixon was his first political cartoon. He was in sixth grade, working on it in history class. The teacher came along, and asked what he was doing.
“I thought I was going to get paddled,” he recalled. “But when he looked at it, he asked if I could make him a copy.”
Ciocca explained that he tackles political subjects not to try to get people to change their minds, but rather to relieve anxiety.
“By putting it down on paper, it makes me feel better,” he said.
His favorite piece on display is a mixed medium titled ‘All about love.’
“Love is more important than anything else,” he explained. “It defines what you are.”
“I love this area,” he continued. “This area is the sweetest area. I’ve traveled the world, but this is the best.”
Many of Ciocca’s subjects are from the area - including many of the farms in Newton-Ransom which are disappearing, and reflect other changes that are taking place in his lifetime as well.
“I just like making art,” he said. “I’ve liked doing it since I was a kid. It’s something I like to share with everyone.”