49, has spent his career studying what some call wildlife
art, but which he calls “natural history” art. Like others
in this genre, he strives for accuracy not only of the subject—in
his case, wild mammals and birds—but also of the vegetation
and terrain of the setting. Sharer earned an art degree at
Russell Sage College and took painting classes at the University
of South Florida, but it was during private lessons with the
internationally ac claimed natural history painting masters
John Seerey-Lester and Robert Bateman that he feels he really
entry at Bennington shows a cheetah reclining on a hillside
(pictured), which is based on studies Sharer sketched during
his 2009 trip to Kenya. Some animals he saw there, such as
lions, have declined so much in recent years from poaching
that Sharer fears his grandchildren may never see them outside
of zoos, and he hopes his paintings will both document and
heighten awareness of their plight.
entry depicted deer in an Adirondack forest, all their senses
alert as they prepare to leap out of sight.
is the 15th year that the private Bennington Center for the
Arts has hosted Art of the Animal Kingdom, and gallery
director Shirley Hutchins says it is one of the few such exhibits
in the eastern United States this year. (Another is the spectacular
Focus on Nature XI show at the New York State Museum.)
Natural history art is wildly popular out West, but has never
had the same following here, says Hutchins, and she expects
fans east of the Mississippi to travel some distance to see
this rare show.
are all the same artists that sell out in galleries in the
West,” Hutchins says.
the show is a prestigious step in a career balanced with his
job and family: his wife, Donna, and their daughter, Lindsey,
9. Sharer is a graphic designer for NYSUT, the statewide education
union; previously, he was an editorial artist at the Times
Union. He was with the Times Union when he placed 11th
nationally in the federal Duck Stamp contest. He sketched
the studies of Canada geese for his entry at a pond near the
Albany International Airport during lunch breaks.
to produce paintings from his Kenya trip for years to come,
and is mulling over how to paint certain scenes he witnessed,
including predators on the hunt. He wants people to be captivated
by these paintings; he also wants them to realize they do
not depict life in a zoo. Sharer grew up in the Capital Region
and doesn’t know what engendered his love of natural history,
but he does know he will always gravitate to the artwork of
never have anybody walk up to my paintings and say, ‘That’s
adorable,’” Sharer explains. “It’s not going to happen.”
on The Art of the Animal Kingdom exhibit can be found on the
website of the Bennington Center for the Arts, benningtoncenterforthearts.org.
Sharer’s website is markjosephsharer.com.