August 12, 2015

Mark Heine | August issue of B!isss Mag

Liz rice McCray

You don’t have to go far to find mystery and magic on Earth. It’s always been there, at our doorstep, beyond the trees, in the oceans… especially there – the oceans are an ancient and alien place, filled with life that had been evolving for billions of years before the first tetrapod ever set flipper on land. It’s the origin of
all life, and yet it remains a mystery. With technology we occasionally manage to slip deep below the surface for a brief glimpse. But in general, our direct personal experience with the world that covers seven-tenths of the planet is limited to snatching gulps of air and mucking about on or near the surface. The oceans are an unknown place that creates both curiosity and fear. This is the home of “Sirens.”
Artist and author Mark Heine is
a storyteller, and “Sirens” is the culmination of his own 32-year evolution in bringing the works of his imagination to life. The paintings seen here are part of an ambitious
project that combines his passions
for painting and writing. These
works, among others, will be used to illustrate key story moments in his upcoming book of fiction, also entitled Sirens.
Heine finds that fictional writing allows him to explore both the light and dark sides of his vivid imagination, while with the paintings he can create a fictional world in detail beyond the written word. It’s a symbiotic balance: his painting inspires his writing and his writing motivates his painting.
The combination results in a unique approach to both.
In the genre of magical realism, “Sirens” is a tale of our ambiguous and destructive relationship with our environment, as seen from the point of view of the creatures inhabiting
the oceans. The key figures in the story are a modern reinterpretation
of the Sirens or sea nymphs of Greek mythology, made infamous in Homer’s
Odyssey. In Heine’s interpretation, innocence, honor and love are
set against betrayal, greed and genocide. A moral battle is underway beyond our sight and control, and the outcome will decide the fate of humankind.
According to the United Nations, the top threat now facing us is global warming and what that means for the sustainability of life. Heine believes that for us to survive our next evolution must be to affect change in global attitudes about the planet. He makes this analogy: “If you place a frog in a pot of hot water, it will jump clear. Put the same frog in a pot of cold water, turn on the heat, and it will happily sit there and boil to death. The earth is the pot and we are the frog. The heat is on… we turned it
on ourselves.” The “Sirens” story is an allegory of the very real crisis we face. In the story, however, humanity is given a deadline and extinction is the penalty for not acting. “Sirens”
is ambitious in several ways, not least because it dives into difficult and complex questions, such as what are the first key political and economic steps we have to take to move with enough urgency to secure a sustainable future? These are questions we must all begin to ask, for our survival.
This is the motivation behind the “Sirens” project. Heine hopes to
tap into the current popularity of magical realism to ignite interest in the environment and sustainability, since he believes that the most efficient way to affect global attitudes is through popular culture. Heine’s ultimate vision is a show of life-size paintings that will accompany the launch of the book. A film of the
story would complete his vision. The book is now in production, and Heine has already begun writing a sequel. Visit for more information. Heine’s “Sirens” paintings are available exclusively through
RJD Gallery in Sag Harbor, New York,

6489055 8248960 3778161 8847522

Make sure to read the back story on each painting

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