East German-born artist shows at Metropolis

Most local artists are self-taught — and proud of it. Many admit to having little professional or academic training — much less European training.

But if you’d like to see the works of an East German-trained “realist” painter — trained from an early age in the ways of the Old School from the Old Country — then pay a visit to the back gallery of Metropolis The Gallery, on Fourth Street.

Marcusz Schone, born in Wismar, East Germany, in 1967, and now a resident of Port Townsend, is showing at the Met all this month, and hopes to show in other local galleries in the months to come.

His artistic training began at age 6, when it was discovered he had talent.

“I went to various art schools in East Germany,” he said. “In the Communist system, I never had to pay a cent.”

After spending the required 18 months service in East Germany’s armed forces (Navy) 1985-87, he entered the University for Graphic and Book Design in Leipzig, earning his master’s in 1993.

In the meantime, of course, the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

“After the wall came down,” he said in his slightly accented English, “everything changed.”

He received a scholarship of $15,000 from the German Foreign Exchange Service, and left East Germany to spend a year at the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland, earning another master’s in print making.

Schone then went on a “world trip,” traveling mostly through the Pacific Isles, to New Zealand, Australia and South East Asia.

“I grew up on a small island (in East Germany) and loved listening to the tales of sailors who’d traveled the world.”

He was sufficiently inspired by sailing to spend a year in 1997-98 at Washington County Technical College, Maine, earning a diploma in boat building.

As far as his life’s work is concerned, these are his two loves: sailing and art.

And then there was Doris, his wife, originally from New Jersey, who he met while she was working in New Zealand. They were married in 1996.

When Doris Schone came to the Northwest to be closer to her parents who retired here, the young couple ended up in Port Townsend. The artist splits his time — and income — between painting and working on boats at a boat works. Schone’s wife is a professional sailmaker.

Schone’s works are startlingly realistic — usually resplendent with color — on specially treated particle board. Many of his subjects are of his wife.

“It takes about five months to do a painting,” he said. Schone makes preliminary sketches and often uses a grid for precise rendering.

“I’ll often work on one spot of a painting for hours,” he said. And depending on his mood, he’ll work for an hour to 17 hours straight. “Composition is everything.”

Like many painters from the Eastern Bloc, he dismisses abstract art. He can find “no meaning” in a triangle.

As a realistic painter, “I’ve been compared to (Gustav) Klimt,” he said, but considers his main influence to be that of the Polish-born count Balthus (1908-2001).

He has exhibited in Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, Poland and Switzerland, as well as the U.S.

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