What’s Good G?

Work that Represents Us 

Germane Barnes

In his latest column, Germane Barnes spotlights Mark Fleuridor and Reginald O’Neal, two artists offering intimate portrayals of family, community, and the spaces they inhabit

Welcome back to What’s Good G?! I hope you enjoyed my first column. Though I suppose if you are reading this month’s article, you did not hate the premise. You may have even been slightly intrigued by the people, places, and things I find interesting. That said, let’s jump right into it.

I’m dedicating this second column to two amazingly talented artists, Mark Fleuridor and Reginald O’Neal. Both are Miami natives who present visual art through a relatable lens. Mark, born in the northwest suburb of Opa-locka, and Reggie, via Overtown, are representative of the diverse diasporic influences of South Florida. Many visitors often conflate Miami neighborhoods, presenting uniquely positioned areas as repetitive enclaves. This could not be further from the truth. The spatial and cultural aspects do have some similarities, but overall, Opa-locka and Overtown are two vastly different Black Miami communities. This positionality is important to understanding the ever-growing catalogues of these two amazing people.

Being Held by Mark Fleuridor. Photo by Zachary Balber; courtesy of the artist

Mark is a trained artist, having won numerous awards and recognitions dating back to his high school days. I was first introduced to Mark’s work in 2015 while visiting the National YoungArts Foundation annual exhibition and gala. I was supremely impressed by the intention and execution of such personal work by a 17 year old. His ability to channel his family and cultural practices into multimedia visual works was striking not only to me, but to the larger arts community. In fact, Mark would soon after receive the Presidential Scholar Award, an award that  recognizes some of the country’s most accomplished and distinguished high school graduates.

Mark skillfully utilizes a multitude of approaches to convey personal narratives. Switching from painting to performance to collage and—my personal favorite—quilting, he is able to explore topics such as immigration, ethnicity and identity. I admire Mark’s work because it embodies his fiercely dedication to his family. There’s a breath of joy and delight when viewing his work. I truly believe that the most powerful art is the work that represents us, and Mark does so effortlessly.

Enveloped by the Sun #1 (Munmi), 2021, and Enveloped by the Sun #4 (Moise and Kianna) 2021, by Mark Fleuridor. Photos by Philip Karp; courtesy of the artist

While Mark is an institutionally trained artist, Reggie’s training was more informal. He is an exceptionally talented oil painter who focuses on the grittier and more unpleasant nuances of identity. I met Reggie at an artist residency in the winter of 2020. It was during this week that we bonded over shared experiences of being born in areas that can often be described as dangerous. Despite Reggie’s lack of formal training, his prodigious talents are undeniable. He utilizes photographs of real events and reproduces them as paintings. If Mark’s work highlights the vibrancy of his family, Reggie’s describes the uncertainty and traumatic experiences of his own.

From left: Reginald O'Neal's Rachel, 2018, and Zipper, 2018. Photos © Reginald O'Neal

The duality and honesty of their work is why I think both are so good. They show the multiplicities of cultural identity from the perspective of individuals typically underrepresented and marginalized.

If you’re interested in seeing more of their work, Mark is currently located at Oolite Arts on Miami Beach, while Reggie, represented by Spinello Gallery, currently has a solo exhibition—They Dreamt of Us—on display.

Until next time!

Cheers,

G ◆

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