Hailing from South Toms River, Mark Retacco is an incredible artist whose work has been featured on MTV, PBS, and even in the White House. At a young age, his class trip to the Newark Museum helped him realize even further how passionate he was about art, where he viewed a unique exhibit that showed buildings made out of wood chips, and after that, he would go home and build his own cities in the backyard.
Originally from Newark, in the early 1970s, his family moved down to Ocean County. At this time Mark made a switch from a private Catholic school to a public school. Unfortunately, he ended up a victim of bullying when switching to the new school. Although he had a safe haven during art class, most of the other parts of his school day were torture. He recalls it being a very painful experience.
Being so driven from a young age is quite inspiring, and now Retacco is a beautiful success story of how important it is to follow your creative passions. “Your superpower is your uniqueness,” he has said, and that definitely rings true with all he’s been through, and now being given all the success he has from his beautiful creations.
With technology shifting and artists having different ways of sharing their work, people have asked him how he was able to get his work featured on MTV. Mark recalls that he called the artistic director up and asked if he could have a chance.
Retacco uses his talent to express powerful emotions that will draw the viewer in. He has stated that when he is creating, it makes him the happiest. One of his paintings is called Space Pup Ozzi. This piece is inspired by his dog. Cute and quirky would be the best way to describe this masterpiece he has shared with the world. The pup in this painting will also be the focus of his new children’s book, coming out soon.
His painting Stop Hate Crimes is one that boldly represents a call to more peace and unity and an end to hateful violence. It is an example of his art that is meant to have a strong impact and evoke powerful emotions. This piece has the capability to make you think and feel about the real issues our country faces.
In addition to making paintings, he also makes sculptures. Today, while Retacco still is an artist, he is also passionate about making the world a better place. Retacco created the Art2facts art program. which involves going around to schools speaking about his artwork, his school experiences, and the importance of respecting everyone’s uniqueness. The program is important and has a special impact on the schools he has visited.
Retacco is an impactful person as well as a talented creator. Being a nature lover, he has stated how much he loves Ocean County and how that is where his roots are. He loves how water and the earth come together there, and has called his home county “the salt of the earth.” It is interesting to see how his New Jersey background has helped shape him into the artist he has become.
Despite anyone trying to censor him (see news article), his work is profound. It has had impacts in New Jersey and out of the state. Some of his creations have strong, impactful messages, while others feature a more fun and playful feel. One thing that remains in all of his work is his creativity and passion. Retacco’s creative skills are bold and he is not afraid to blend social justice issues into the art, which makes his very special. Be sure to check out his work.