With an incredible view of the Cascade Mountain range to the west and a vast high desert blanketed by a sky full of stars to the east, it’s easy to imagine where local artists, craftsmen and writers draw their inspiration here in Central Oregon. Mark Jamnik, a local Subliminal Story Artist, blends words and colors in an abstract technique that displays an underlying meaning below the beautiful Bend landscape, the artist’s world travels and love of nature. “I love going out mountain biking during the summer to get my nature time and in the winter, being with the trees on skis at Mt. Bachelor,” says Jamnik.
Jamnik was born and raised outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He lived there until after college, then moved to sunny Arizona. In 2020, a peaceful voice told Jamnik to trust his instincts and go. He listened and began traveling the country, with a stop in Bend to visit a friend. Jamnik instantly fell in love with the community, and the unique landscape. Because he had already been doing art for several years, it was a smooth transition when he made his official move to Bend in 2022.
Jamnik’s unique artistic style is not only muti-layered in color and shapes, it has a community-based approach. “Before I ever touch the canvas, I invite the community to contribute their inspiration based on a prompt ‘word or phrase,’" explains Jamnik. While attending multiple events around Bend, Jamnik offers a Collective Experience in which he asks the spectators what Bend means to them and requests that they write it down in an open space where they can express their feelings through words and phrases and share the experience with others in real time. The process is designed to further connect the community through stories and reflections and directly inspires what goes onto Jamnik’s canvases. Because this process is different every time, Jamnik is unaware of what the outcome of the piece will look like until it’s complete.
“I love that when people are given the prompt...you'll often see them pause and really think. It's about letting go of all the other things that are happening to become present to the moment to really think...what does that ‘prompt word’ mean for me?” Jamnik adds.
Keeping it Local
While traveling is still a passion, Jamnik prefers to spend most of his time in Bend creating new, one of kind pieces, doing community events like First Friday and sharing his technique with budding artists. Jamnik’s website ebbs and flows like his art and takes the reader through his stories, his processes and his philosophies on creativity. The list of works is displayed along with the name and description of the piece and allows the reader to take away their own meaning. Through the intertwining colors and abstract shapes, it’s as if we are searching through the depths of the canvas to find the message beneath. Messages of hope, belonging, love, and nature.
One of Jamnik’s pieces, ‘A Place Called Home’ was inspired by “The wonderful people of Bend and encapsulates the many steps that brought me here,” Jamnik reflects. It’s beautiful rainbow of colors layers itself over words brought to us by our close-knit community and all the outdoor activities we enjoy. It brings all the elements together that show Bend’s spirit and wanderlust.
Year of Inspiration
In the coming year, Jamnik will continue to create new pieces, share his talents on video and participate in several live community events. One event in the works is a series of illuminated story art, where the paintings are lit from behind so observers can view the story embedded within each painting and experience a unique perspective from day to night. Another event called Rolling out Paint takes the community inspired version of Paint with the Artist (PWA) to various companies, nonprofits and social groups looking for new ways to create, connect and make art.
At a PWA class, Jamnik “invites your inner artist to pick up a paintbrush and reconnect to the creativity you had as a child.” With classes taking place at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at Thump Coffee at The Grove in NW Crossing, there are ample opportunities to learn more and participate in this interactive art experience. Find Mark Jamnik on Instagram @markjamnik and @markjamnikart. He also has a YouTube channel.
“It's about letting go of all the other things that are happening to become present to the moment.”