Mark Reigelman II
2018 EMERGING ARTIST PRIZE IN DESIGN
Mark is passionate about creating dynamic public installations for his hometown. One of his most memorable experiences was an early project, Blue Birds, which consisted of dozens of hand-sculpted resin birds perched on trees, houses and telephone poles throughout the Edgewater Hill neighborhood.
“It was a great example of community collaboration and urban investigation,” he says.
Growing up in Sheffield Lake, Mark was the kid in his community with the tattoo stand on his lawn, giving neighborhood children Magic Marker tattoos for a nickel. When he wasn’t playing art entrepreneur, he was making garage sales signs for his mom, creating short films with his sister or duplicating his father’s pencil drawings.
In high school, Mark was completely unaware that “artist/designer” was a career option and was carelessly considering Physical Therapy until his art teacher told him that there were special schools dedicated to art and design education. “This changed everything!” he remembers. “I started frantically pulling together slides and preparing my submission to the Cleveland Institute of Art which was the only school to which I applied.”
In his last couple of years at the Institute, Mark lined up internships with artists and designers in New York City. The exposure to bustling urban environments captivated his artistic interests. In his fifth year, he received a Windgate Fellowship allowing him to design and install Stair Squares on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall in New York and his final thesis, Home Sweet Home, consisted of redesigning Cleveland bus shelters. “These are places, steps and shelters, where people were gathering but not conversing,” he explains. “I was interested in using art and design as a catalyst for social interaction. Those two projects started checking the boxes for what I was interested in both personally and artistically: complex installations, multifaceted processes and significant collaborations with a community and with people in other fields.”
In 2006, Mark received his BFA in Sculpture at the Cleveland Institute of Art and an advanced product design certificate at Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design in London, UK. He moved to New York full-time shortly afterward and worked a variety of odd jobs to pay the bills while he created his art at night. He designed the iconic Wrap planters that enhance downtown Cleveland’s streetscape in 2009 and had installations at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Summer Solstice celebrations in 2009 and 2010 both of which were recognized as being among the top 50 public art projects in the United States by Americans for the Arts.
“Cleveland Public Art and Land Studio kept me tethered to Cleveland giving me awesome opportunities and encouraging me to continue exploring the potential of public space,” he says, adding that by 2013, he started to feel his approach to design and urban space being refined and more calibrated.
“Mark’s energy, curiosity, and creativity are infectious,” observes Gregory Peckham, executive director, Land Studio, who met Mark when he was a student at CIA. “He dives deep into each project to understand the history of a place, and its future ambitions. His public projects are simple, bold expressions of complicated histories and stories of people and communities.”
His unique body of work stands poised between abstraction and literal representation, guided by a clear conceptual foundation and flawless synthesis within public space. He says the energy that runs through the streets and people of Cleveland inspired him to pursue the “winding and unexpected path” of public art. He has created several artworks for the city, including The Reading Nest for the Cleveland Public Library, and the Rock Boxes that line a path towards the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
According to Mark, the foundation for every site-specific installation lies in the encouragement of social interaction and creating spaces where social dialogue is the ultimate byproduct.
This past year, his commissions included Edge of the Forest, Cambridge, MA; St. James, San Jose, CA; Sweetwater at the Domino Park; Brooklyn, NY; and Formation at the San Diego International Airport.
Mark has worked with designers such as Dror, Ron Gilad, Isaac Mizrahi, Montana Knox and Rockwell Group and his work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Magazine, Frame (Netherlands), L’uomo Vogue (Italy), Public Design (Korea) and Télé Star (France).
“I collaborate with brilliant people on every project with the goal of redefining the urban landscape and social interaction,” Mark concludes. “And in today’s political climate, the work focused on high-quality public spaces is the most important design work that can be done in America.”