BY JANICE LLANES FABRY
The Rye Arts Center will present the work of local artist Lynn Mara from April 11 to May 6. “Good Ground: 40.9781º N, 73.6832º W”, features Mara’s signature expressionist style and bold colors. A reception with the artist will be held on April 15 from 5:30-7. The exhibit is curated by Sarah Mackay and Gail Harrison Roman.
The highly prolific artist has a notably eclectic body of work rendered in assortments of acrylic, oil pastel, spray paint, resin, house paint, silkscreen, photography, and mixed media. Her collection ranges from unique renditions of the American flag and pop-art portraits with graffiti to landscapes, sports, surfers, and horses.
“Paint is the way music comes out my horn,” offered Mara. “It’s an expression of love and gratitude. I paint for the sheer joy, but there’s meaning and truth behind everything I do.”
When she walks into her spacious, sunlit studio, a converted three-car garage with bountiful natural light and 16-foot ceilings, she is open to embarking on a new journey. She paints for eight to twelve hours nearly every day. “It’s always an adventure. I enjoy being spontaneous. When I get in a groove, I go,” remarked Mara, who might utilize house paint, bubble wrap, and those mesh polypropylene bags that hold oranges to enhance her canvas.
She is infinitely grateful for painting’s prominent role in her life and acutely attuned to what she is capable of bringing to it. Her deep appreciation for its intrinsic purity and beauty became more pronounced during the pandemic.
“The pandemic was the most transformative time in my painting. I would take walks and learn so much from nature. Flowers don’t compete with one another, wondering who’s going in the wedding bouquet and which snowdrops are left behind,” she observed. “I started painting with abandon. Fear and self-consciousness were replaced with confidence, courage, and gratitude.”
Having spent fourteen years enrolled in a scripture study course, Mara’s spirituality is apparent throughout her work. “Good Ground” references the scriptural “seed that falls on good ground and produces fruit.” It also refers to the canvas upon which she experiments with various textures and tools. The geographical longitude and latitude coordinates belong to the Long Island Sound. “It’s a body of water we’re familiar with, which connects all of us in Westchester, Long Island, and Connecticut,” explained Mara, who was raised in Southampton near a hamlet known as Good Ground.
Although her hometown has long been a vacation haven for the affluent, living among the locals as she did was vastly different. Mara grew up among farmers, landscapers, and fishermen and dreamt about owning a horse, later the subject of many of her paintings. “We never went on vacation, and I was never on a plane until I was in college,” she recalled. “I love where I came from. It informs what I think, what I do, and how I paint.”
Encouraged by her mother, who nurtured her talent early on, Mara has been painting all her life. “I am the eldest of six and my mother’s encouraging words were a source of strength,” she said. “Today, my husband and my kids are my biggest fans.”
Always creative and resourceful, she began selling her paintings at age 12. She went on to work as an illustrator in the fashion industry and then in sales for Ralph Lauren, whose distinctive style resonated with her. “I liked his philosophy of creating a lifestyle and a story. That’s what people really were buying. And that’s what I try to emulate in my work,” she said. “The key is to adapt to ever- changing needs and desires in order to stay relevant.”
For the same reason, Mara became fascinated with the work of American artists such as Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. While the former revitalized the American flag, the latter took ordinary daily artifacts and “turned them into something extraordinarily attractive through brilliant color application.”
She continued, “I love the flag and I like to capture the spirit, energy, and strength that others see in us as Americans with vibrancy and color.”
Her homages to Warhol are evident in her striking portraits of inspirational icons, like Queen Elizabeth and Frank Sinatra, and in her vibrant painting of Coke bottles in <We’re Being Consumed>.
Mara also has a vast collection of football paintings, which fall in line with the family business. An avid sports fan in her own right, she has been married to New York Football Giants co-owner and Vice President of Community Relations Frank Mara for 35 years. They have four sons, Sean, Jack, Frankie, and Owen. Her 16-foot mural brings to life highlight moments in the Giants Legacy Club in MetLife Stadium and her portraits of players fill the Giants offices in the Quest Diagnostic Center.
Her work is also exhibited in art galleries throughout New York City, and in Greenwich and Southampton, as well as in private and corporate collections.
Mara’s artwork has gone mobile, too. The Hampton Jitney, which brings commuters from New York City to the east end of Long Island and back, depicted Mara’s landscapes on the side of the bus for its 40th anniversary. “I almost crashed my car when I saw it on the LIE!” she quipped.
The artist has even made an impression in the metaverse. She recently launched an NFT, those hard-to-describe “non-fungible tokens” used for cryptocurrencies. Hers are “Barcode Ponies”.
In a class by herself, Mara gives away the proceeds from the sale of her artwork to individuals in need whom she serendipitously comes across. “It has been a very rewarding career. God gave me this gift that I enjoy every day of my life and when it allows me to help someone or a charity organization, that’s like a gift given twice,” she said.
<For more information, log on to the artist’s website at lynnmara.com or follow her on Instagram @Lynn.Mara.Art. Mara welcomes visits to her studio by appointment.>