Celebrating the arts in Brome Missisquoi
Featuring Mark Gustav Zimmerl
By Rhiannon Day
Special to Brome County News
Artist, painter, and creator Mark Gustav Zimmerl has been developing his art since a very young age. With the encouragement of his parents, Zimmerl originally pursued painting as a hobby. This artist mentions a resonating memory from his childhood as visiting the National Art Gallery and seeing art by the Group of Seven and thinking to himself “oh I want to do that!”
Zimmerl did not seriously consider painting as a career until a high school art teacher told him to consider becoming an artist. Due to previous plans to become an engineer, Zimmerl achieved his Pure and Applied DEC in Cegep. With the inspiration and support from parents and teachers alike to pursue art, Zimmerl then switched into creative arts following cegep. He went on to achieve a BFA with Distinction from Concordia University, where he honed his skills for painting and a Japanese form of pottery called Raku. Zimmerl mentions ultimately coming out of this university experience with an epiphany of what he wanted his own work to be. By coming back to his roots and the basis of his art, Zimmerl successfully built his art into what he is most passionate about and most inspired by: nature scenes.
Following Concordia, Zimmerl earned a Diploma in Education in the Arts from McGill University, which then led him to teach art at St. George’s High School. Gradually working his way from teaching at 50 per cent to a full 100 per cent task load, Zimmerl found himself without sufficient time to work on his own art. While teaching, he incrementally increased his client base, and explored his creative interests. With the reminder of why he wanted to do art, observed through the joy of creating he could teach his students, Zimmerl left St. George’s to pursue his art full-time in 2003.
Throughout his career, Mark Zimmerl has acquired an abundance of awards and accolades. However, when asked about them, Zimmerl indicated that he does not regard art-making as a competition. While it is nice to be recognized through prizes and awards, Zimmerl values the direct interactions he has with his clients, being able to see and discuss the positive responses and reactions of viewers. For him, the social aspect of art is the most fulfilling.
This artist has a strong connection to all subjects of art. He finds inspiration by placing a blank canvas in front of nature, whether it be the forest or the ocean, and seeing what comes of his interpretation of that moment in time. His process involves sketching in order to capture the light of that fleeting moment, or even taking photos to preserve it, and painting from there. Zimmerl also mentions finding great inspiration and support from his wife, Alisa Sushko. Sushko is also a painter and ceramic artist; her style gravitates toward larger sculptural pieces such as garden sculptures and traditional raku ceramics. By sharing studio spaces, producing art out of the same spaces, and traveling on painting trips together these two artists are able to produce phenomenal collaborative art as well as host workshops for clients. Zimmerl describes the two of them by saying “we’re a team!”
Currently, Zimmerl works on commissions with local clients throughout the Eastern Townships, and is seen yearly with the Tour des Arts, an annual event beginning each second Saturday of July. When asked about his future ambitions, Mark Zimmerl mentioned feeling so fortunate to be able to create art and be in such a beautiful area in the Eastern Townships that he did not have ambitions beyond what he has.
Those interested in Zimmerl’s work are encouraged to reach out through email (firstname.lastname@example.org ), or to learn more through his website (mgz.ca). Zimmerl shares studio space with his wife, artist Alisa Sushko, and all are encouraged to reach out to her through her email ( alisaSushko@gmail.com ) and to explore her website as well at (www.alpiniastudio.com).
This project has been made possible by the Community Media Strategic Support Fund offered jointly by the Official Language Minority Community Media Consortium and the Government of Canada.