About the Artist :: Mark Shasha

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Mark Shasha is an award-winning American artist. He is also an award-winning author and illustrator, an award-winning educator, an actor and a songwriter. His paintings, drawings and prints are found in public and private collections around the world and have appeared in museums and galleries for more than three decades. His children’s books appear regularly on bestseller lists and have been read by millions worldwide.

Mark grew up by the sea in Connecticut. A love of painting, drawing and telling stories led him to the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, where art instructors included Chris Van Allsburg (author and illustrator of Jumanji and The Polar Express), the painter Trent Burleson, and Bauhaus colorist Sy Sillman. After graduation from RISD in 1983, Shasha moved to Boston where he found work as an illustrator at newspapers and magazines including The Boston Globe, The Phoenix, Boston Magazine and other publications.

Shasha’s first book, Night of the Moonjellies (Simon & Schuster), published in 1992, was inspired by childhood memories of working at his grandmother’s hot dog stand in the early 1970s. It was greeted as ”a classic” by Smithsonian Magazine, received a Marion Vannett Ridgway Award, and was praised by Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Sesame Street, and many others. Shasha also wrote and illustrated other works including The Hall of Beasts (Simon & Schuster), a quiet story about the magic of art.

As the popularity of his books grew, Shasha was invited to schools across the country to introduce children to the world of writing and illustrating. He expanded these visits into original and wide-ranging performances full of music, art history, math, and ideas about the creative process. Mark’s visits brought rave reviews and yet more invitations. He traveled from Concord, New Hampshire to Kansas City, Missouri in his trademark yellow suit. By the end of the 1990’s more than 150,000 children in 220 schools and libraries had heard Shasha’s unique presentations. In 1999, The Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut awarded Shasha the Shining Star Award for his “Outstanding contribution to the education of young people.” Previous recipients include the undersea explorer Robert Ballard who found Titanic.

Shasha left the book world in 1999 to return full-time to oil painting and to his studies of realism and impressionism and is among the most collected of New England’s emerging artists. His numerous art awards include the Guild of Boston Artists’ Silver Medal and Rockport’s Antonio Cirino Award. Mark Shasha’s work has been seen in more than 70 exhibitions in museums and galleries nationwide including the venerable Guild of Boston Artists, Lyman Allyn Museum of Art, Storyopolis in Hollywood, and the historic Society of Illustrators in New York City. His work has shared space with artists as diverse as Christo, Harry Vincent, Jeff Koons and Emile Gruppe. Shasha’s list of solo exhibitions includes a small 2003 retrospective which featured book illustrations, sketchbooks and drawings from his early years.

Today, Mark Shasha is one of New England’s leading painters. He is listed in The American Artists Bluebook and is represented by several select galleries. Meanwhile, his books are read worldwide and appear regularly on several bestseller lists. Night of the Moonjellies, a Smithsonian Notable Book, is considered by many to be a classic of children’s literature and is heralded by Five in a Row as “one of the best books ever published for children.”

When he is not painting, Shasha is likely to be acting or singing on a stage. He has had several key roles in notable Boston-area productions including Willy Wonka (in the title role), Fiddler on the Roof, Peter Pan, Blood Brothers, and many others. Mark Shasha also played Cogsworth in an award-winning stage production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and won praise for his performance as Reuben in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Shasha has also appeared on television, film and video and has been a subject of National Public Radio programs over the years. He lives with his wife and children on the North Shore of Boston.