Dara Mark

Dara Mark

Artist Statement

Order and surprise motivate my work in equal measure. Once I have painted a grid of orderly repeated shapes on synthetic paper, the flow of paint settles according to its intrinsic properties. Each pigment I use has its own way of moving and settling, which is inherent but not predictable. When the paint dries, the paper is layered into a composition.

By allowing natural chaos into the work I am continually surprised by the result. The painting becomes a meditative collaboration between me and my materials. Often suggesting biology, geology or landscape, the paintings are named for Greek water nymphs, those gentle beings who embodied the healing powers of rivers and streams, or for local New Mexico landscape features, or for my daily practice of Taoist chi gong (energy work). My chi gong practice consists of a few specified postures followed by simply allowing the body to move, very much like my painting practice. It is effective at the physical, mental and spiritual levels.

One of my artist heroes, Agnes Martin, pointed out that “all art is experienced emotionally.” I’m aiming for feelings that are subtle and life-affirming. I have learned from Martin’s work to simplify the art in order to quiet the mind.





MFA University of California at Santa Barbara
BA Yale University

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2013    Following the Flow, Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, ID
2012 ‘11, ‘10, and ‘09, SMINK, Dallas, TX
2008 The C Gallery, Los Alamos, CA
2004 EVO Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
2003 University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM
2001 EVO Gallery, Santa Fe, NM
1996 Center Gallery, Los Olivos, CA
1995 Cuesta College Art Gallery, San Luis Obispo, CA
Shidoni Contemporary Gallery , Santa Fe, NM
1994 Art at the Inn Program, Citronelle Restaurant, Santa Barbara, CA
1993 Trevi Gallery, Solvang, CA
1991 Allan Hancock College Gallery, Santa Maria, CA
1989 Hartnell College Gallery, Salinas, CA
Contemporary Arts Forum, Windowspace , Santa Barbara, CA
1981 Alice Benjamin Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA
1980 Women's Center, University of California at Santa Barbara, CA
1979 Sunbow Gallery, Portland, OR
1978 University of Oregon Art Museum, Eugene, OR
1976 Earthwares Gallery, St. Louis, MO

Selected Group Exhibitions

2014 Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, ID, FILTERED: What does love look like?
Lady Minimalists Tea Society, inaugural show, ART[s]UP=SALON, Galisteo, NM
“Black and White" exhibit at SMINK, Dallas, TX
SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM, “SITE Unseen 8"
2013  City of Santa Fe Arts Commission Community Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, “Cumulous Skies: The Enduring Modernist Aesthetic in New Mexico”
Axle Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM, “Lady Minimalists Tea Society: Magnetic Drift”
2012 ART Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM, “Project Space: Lady Minimalists Tea Society”
2011 Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, “NM Women Artists”
Center for Contemporary Arts , Santa Fe, NM, “18 Days”
2010 Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe, NM, “New Mexico Women”
Friesen Gallery , Sun Valley, ID, “Considered”
2009 Zane Bennett Contemporary Art, Santa Fe NM, “Cutting Edge”
2008 Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM, “Collect: Inside 8”
SITE Santa Fe , “SITE Unseen”
Walker Fine Art , Denver, CO
2007 Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA, “38th Annual National Juried Exhibition”
2006 Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM, “Collect: Inside 8”
2004 Schneider Museum of Art, Ashland OR, “Mark Making”
James Kelly Contemporary , Santa Fe, NM, ”SITE Unseen”
Center for Contemporary Arts , Santa Fe, NM, “Insight Out”
Museum of Contemporary Art , Fort Collins, CO, “Rocky Mountain Biennial”
LewAllen Contemporary , Santa Fe, NM, “FOCA Artists Exhibition”
2003 New Mexico Cancer Center, Albuquerque, NM
EVO Gallery , Santa Fe, NM, “Elements of Perception”
Albuquerque Museum , Albuquerque NM, “Originals 2003”
2002 EVO Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, “Invitational”
Plan B , Santa Fe, NM, “Collect”
2001 Harwood Museum, Taos, NM, “Originals: New Mexico Women Artists”
Channing Peake Gallery , Santa Barbara, CA, “Degrees of Abstraction”
2000 Governor’s Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, “Fair and Square”
Jaquelin Loyd Contemporary , Ranchos deTaos, NM, “Group Show 2000”
LewAllen Contemporary , Santa Fe, NM, “Women Artists from the Land of Enchantment”
1999 LewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM
Jaquelin Loyd Contemporary , Ranchos de Taos, NM
1998 Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, “Elements”
Coleman Gallery , Albuquerque, NM, “Summer Show”
Ventura College New Media Gallery , Ventura, CA
1997 LA Artcore Brewery Annex, Los Angeles, CA, “Wallworks”
1996 Korean Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA, “Across the Miles”
Los Angeles Printmaking Society , Los Angeles, CA, “Women Artists - Works on Paper”
1995 Museum Art Center, Santa Maria, CA, “Paper/Scissors/Stone; Nine Women Working”
1994 Colored Pencil Society of America, Lake Oswego, OR
1993 Colored Pencil Society of America, Birmingham, MI
1991 College of Creative Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara, “Points of View”
1990 Security Pacific Gallery, Costa Mesa, CA, “The Mark”
Artspace Gallery of the City of Los Angeles , CA, “Elements”
The Women’s Building , Los Angeles, CA, “Santa Barbara Artists”
1988 Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, “Santa Barbara Artists”


Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, Santa Barbara, CA
Westco Savings, Culver City, CA
Pacific Institute for Bioethics, Solvang, CA
University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
Unity of All Life Church, Port Townsend, WA
La Familia Medical Center, Santa Fe, NM
University of New Mexico Health Sciences Foundation, Albuquerque, NM

Public Commissions

Reininga Corporation, Santa Barbara, CA. 1989

Grants and Awards

Master Artist, Santa Barbara County Arts Commission program for gifted high school students
Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA: 38th Annual National Juried Exhibition,
2nd Place Award , 2007
California Arts Council Artist-In-Residence grants, co-sponsored by Arts Outreach, Los
Olivos, CA, 1986, ‘87, ‘88
Missouri Arts Council Artist-in-Residence grant, 1977


“Dara Mark Goes With the Flow,” Rita Cook, Arts and Culture TX, 10/12.
“Tea for Seven,” Michael Abartemarco, Santa Fe New Mexican (Pasatiempo), 7/13, 2012
“Opened by Limits,” Kathaleen Roberts, Albuquerque Journal Santa Fe, 7/12/12
“25 Artists to Watch: Dara Mark,” American Artists Watercolor, issue 68, Fall 2011. illustration
Fairchild, Douglas, “A Visual Arts Exhibition,” Pasatiempo, Santa Fe New Mexican, 3/18/11. illustration
New American Paintings ; Juried Exhibition-in-Print #60, The Open Studios Press,
Boston, MA, 10/05. illustrations
Laget, Mokha, “Dara Mark: New Work,” THE Magazine, Santa Fe, NM. 10/04. illustration
Cook-Romero, Elizabeth, “Like Water For Paint,” Pasatiempo, Santa Fe New Mexican, 9/17/04. illustration
Fisher, Zane, “SFR Pick,” Santa Fe Reporter, 9/15/04
Insight Out: Reversing Vandalism , Center For Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM. illustration
Tobin, Richard, “Insight Out; Reversing Vandalism,” THE Magazine, Santa Fe, NM, 7/04
Carlisle, Susanna, “Mary Bennett, Madelin Coit, Dara Mark; Elements of Perception,”
THE Magazine , Santa Fe, NM, 7/03. illustration
Collins, Tom, “Cool, Clean and Slick: Elements of Perception Presents Work of Three
Women,” The Albuquerque Journal Venue North, Santa Fe, NM, 5/30/03. illustration
Carver, Jon, “Dara Mark: Intimate Fields,” THE Magazine, Santa Fe, NM, 6/01. illustration
Canty, Scott, Elements, Los Angeles Municipal Gallery,1998. illustration
Crowder, Joan, “Working Women” Santa Barbara New Press, June 30, 1995.
Moret, Andrea, “Mark Gives Elusive Concept Physical Form,” The Lompoc Record, 1980. Illustration
Steider, A., “On Exhibit: Dara Sorgman,” Arabesque, Old Hand Press, Santa Barbara, CA, 1981

News and Press

Agnes Martin, Zen, and the Tao of My Painting

For the last 20 years I have practiced Tao Guang Gong, a spiritually-oriented chi gong (energy work). I studied with a young Chinese woman whose family has developed this particular form.  Tao Guang Gong means “Way of Light Practice.” 

In this form one begins with a prescribed posture and then simply lets the body move. There is a series of 10 set postures with a little mantra for each, but the movements are different each day, as the body/mind/spirit is allowed to express itself. So it is a physical practice that attunes a person to the body, the energies of the day, and the inner self. It’s often quite blissful.

This acceptance of energies beyond the ego has come to inform many aspects of my life, from the way I invite wildflowers into the garden to my art studio practice. In the studio, paintings are not pre-conceived. They develop in their own way and show me their possibilities. The paint, once it’s down on paper, is not manipulated.  It flows in little streams of its own making and settles into puddles. Then it’s my job to compose these dried paint puddles into artwork, balancing the natural chaos with imposed geometry.

Nature offset by orderly (human) form is found all over Asian art and architecture.My innate attraction to this model was heightened by studying ceramics, which included looking at a lot of Chinese and Japanese pottery, and Persian miniature paintings, those condensed/extreme examples.  

Agnes Martin, a personal favorite and a student of Zen, found a compelling balance between her delicate gestures and a strict geometry. I believe she was conscious of using her art to cultivate inner awareness in this way while producing a powerful body of work.

Finding harmony with Nature/inner nature is my aim and my tao (way). It is arrived at intuitively, demands mindfulness and tends to beauty.