We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark Penner-Howell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my career as an artist is the importance of relationships. It’s often said that getting ahead in the arts is all about who you know, but that’s only part of the equation. The depth of your business friendships, and the enthusiasm of others in your network is equally important to creating new opportunities.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an artist working across several disciplines: visual art (primarily painting), music, and video. I am interested in the ways these disciplines overlap and inform each other. Though my visual art is what has brought me the most attention, I am somewhat agnostic about materials and mediums and will work in whatever form my creative interests may take from day to day. Having this sort of creative openness and flow between disciplines is very important to keeping me inspired. I think it also helps keep my ideas fresh. I came to my career as an artist rather late in life by today’s standard. I was in my late forties when I left a career in advertising and decided to dedicate myself to fine art. I had dabbled in art and music ever since graduating from college with an art degree many years ago, but had only daydreamed about making it a career. When I moved to Denver from Chicago 15 years ago, I took the plunge and made it my primary focus. Being a little older than most of the other artists coming up at the time, I was determined to play catch-up as quickly as I could in terms of getting established. Having come from the corporate world, I was aware of how critical it was to stay focused in my practice, and build a network as intentionally as I could. Thanks to the supportive and enthusiastic nature of the Denver art scene, many in my network have also become dear friends.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Because of the impact of the pandemic, I’m afraid some of my favorite neighborhood spots have closed or are in great peril so it’s hard to know for sure what to recommend. That said, Union Station is a great place to start exploring Denver. As re-developed train stations go, Union station is impressive. Among several great restaurants, Union Station hosts the retro-themed Snooze A.M Eatery, where you can get stuffed on creative comfort food before heading out to explore the city. Within walking distance are several world-class contemporary art galleries including K Contemporary, David B Smith, and Robischon, not to mention the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, known for its inventive and engaging programming. The soul of a city is always to be found away from downtown, out in the neighborhoods. My favorite two neighborhoods to explore are Platte Park and Berkeley/Tennyson. Both feature creative eateries, independent shops and breweries, clustered close to small-ish urban parks. They are both great spots to meet your neighbors, and give your dog for a little extra socialization while you’re at it. And since Denver is one of the great “quality of life” destination cities, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the great hiking trails in the foothills right outside of town. Apex Park in Golden, and Mt Falcon Park in Morrison are two of my favorite places to hike close by. Both offer a variety of moderate trails of varying length where you can get a serious workout and cap it off with spectacular views in all directions.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Bobbi Walker, of Walker Fine Art Gallery in Denver.