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Art as therapy is not uncommon. It’s a way to release pent-up feelings, but can also breathe new life into the artist and give that person a way to express his feelings.
For Santa Fe artist Marck Romero, art has provided a way for him to release his inner feelings and has given him a new lease on life.
As a recovering addict, Romero found his inner artist while in jail. Clean for three years, art came from sobriety. “It’s always something I wanted to do, but never did it,” he said. He said he got clean, reconnected with his spirit and was able to do art.
Romero is no stranger to the creative process, however. He used to be a tattoo artist and is a guitarist and vocalist in XMortis, a heavy metal/thrash band. He’s also pursuing a degree in drug and alcohol abuse counseling and is scheduled to graduate from Santa Fe Community College next year.
“Getting clean did so much for me,” he said.
Romero said drawing is a favorite thing for him to do, but the art he’s been creating recently isn’t just about drawing. It’s about bringing his creations to life by putting paint on wood. But if you’re thinking retablo-style work, think again. Romero’s creations are dark and 3D.
“I started working with wood and painting, it’s therapeutic,” Romero said. “I get to purge whatever I’m holding inside and needs to be released.”
He said when he was a child, he was fascinated with skeletons. “It’s carried through (to his art). The skeleton is the cage to our soul. It’s a representative of our mortal being,” Romero said.
Most of Romero’s pieces are untitled, but that’s OK. They don’t need titles to get the point across.
He said he cuts shapes out of wood, then paints them, giving them a 3D feel. His creations take a while to complete, but that’s just part of the creative process. He said often, he starts a piece and then puts it away for a little while.
He creates a lot of Day of the Dead-type art, ranging from traditional Dia de los Muertos skeleton faces, to Zia symbols with skulls inside of them. But not all of his art is like that. One particular piece is a black cross, with red roses on three of the corners and the Virgin of Guadalupe in the center.
Romero also creates some whimsical pieces like the one titled, “Keef,” which is a skeleton clad in a leopard-print jacket, jeans and Converse sneakers, complete with a cigarette clenched between his teeth and headband holding back his hair. The bag of bones is holding a guitar, just in case the imagine of Keith Richards isn’t clear enough.
That also happens to be his favorite piece.
“I was able to embody the vision I had for it. My vision of it came through.”
Another of his creations is a skeleton version of Captain Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. He captures the essence of the character by adding Sparrow’s signature red headband and beads on both hair and beard. He has even added Sparrow’s mustache, gold teeth and dreadlocks to the piece.
Not everyone is appreciative of his subject matter, however. His work was on display at his sister’s shop, Hair Bling and Things at Santa Fe’s DeVargas Center, next to Zales.
The management at DeVargas Center asked that his work be obscured because it was “offensive.” Though they did not ask him to completely remove it that still did not diminish the feelings of rejection for Romero. But despite that obstacle, he said he “just takes it as it comes.”
These days, his work can be seen at Masks y Mas, at Central and Nob Hill in Albuquerque.
“I want it (his art) to be a legacy I leave behind. They’re pieces of me left behind. I’m not creating art just to sell it. I’m selling it to get it out to the world and leave my mark, even if it’s a tiny dent,” he said.