Artist and Magician

Suggested Song: Suspicious Minds, Elvis Presley
Suggested Drink: Absinthe, water, sugar cube

mark stockMark Stock died this week, suddenly, at the age of 62. He was an acclaimed artist from the San Francisco area who’s unique, pensive style inspired a legion of fans from around the globe. What is that lovelorn butler really thinking, writing, considering? What devious plans are afoot? Stock’s film noir infused work was used in Hollywood films and David Arquette produced a short film on his most celebrated piece – “Butler in Love – Absinthe” – shown at right. Two signed posters hang in my dining room in Aix. By the time I met Mark an original Stock was well out of the family budget, unfortunately.

Mark and my former admin Roxanne had been partners in the early 2000s, so I was fortunate to cross his orbit a few times. His renown as an artist was already established, but few people realized his well honed slight-of-hand skills. At dinner parties he held court with card and coin tricks, and his floating dollar bill was always the evening’s climactic dénouement. He was a fixture and crowd favorite for that brief period at our company dinners, keeping everyone laughing and amazed. Roxanne, you ARE bringing Mark tonight, right?

Two things struck me this morning as I read the news of Mark’s death. First, that artists can be truly inspiring as many of us wrestle with the dilemma of uncertain passion pursuits versus sensible compromises. Commercial success in the worlds of music and art demand an all in commitment that provides absolutely no guarantees. It’s an incredible sacrifice by the many that rewards the very few. For those who take the deep and perilous dive, it is a clarifying declaration that this is their gift and raison d’être, and no, they will not compromise that obligation (don’t all of us hold the same obligation, to share our unique gifts with world while we can?). Second, that we are all artists and magicians, regardless of our calling. The accountant, shop keeper, parent, engineer; we are all working to develop and perfect our self-defining oeuvre, to distinguish ourselves from the fray by divining some precious spark of magic. How does she do that? Amazing!

The world is a better place for all when each of us offers up our unique and natural genius, as did Mark Stock. Now, what is your magic within and where is your palette?

For more examples of Mark’s work click here.

Bill Magill

Postscript: I recently read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. That it took me this long to read this book – considered one of the greatest works of psychiatric analysis since Freud – shows how poorly read I truly am. Frankl’s experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz and his ensuing principle that our deepest desires stem from the search for meaning and purpose make for some powerful thought provocation. For those of you feeling resentful and handicapped by life’s little injustices (and exploiting that excuse regularly) I suggest that it’s required reading.

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  1. Thank you Bill for sharing your perspectives and energies with us all. It takes dedication to compose and distribute! It is a blessing you give to us. I am saddened to hear of your friend Mark ‘s early passing. I did not know if his paintings and enjoyed seeing them. My mother handed me a copy of man’s search for meaning when I was in high school and I have re-read it on and off . It really helps when I find myself getting negative or feeling frustrated about goals. That boils things down to some real essentials.

    How are you and the family?? All fine here. My dad ran away from home to San Antonio and is having a ball telling retired military officers his war stories most of which are about characters in bars. Libby is visiting him this weekend. He plans to put in an appearance now and again in Grand Prairie. I am loving retirement. Haven’t been tempted to consult yet. Just finished my tv studio class last night as we filmed a half hour show on UFOs : )) swim and yoga start every weekday, play with some local ukelele gatherings, and work on my tango and garden…live to hear more of your news!!!

    All the best, Leah

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