Mark Shasha is an award-winning American artist. He is also an award-winning author, illustrator and educator, an occasional actor and singer. 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 (The Polar Express) the painter Trent Burleson and Bauhaus colorist Seymour Sillman.
After graduation from RISD in 1983, Shasha 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, 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. Other books include The Hall of Beasts (Simon&Schuster, 1995), a quiet story about the magic of art.
1992 - 1999
The TRAVELING Author
Shasha was soon invited to schools across the country to introduce children to writing and illustrating. He developed original and wide-ranging sessions full of music, art history, math, and ideas about the creative process. 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.
2000 - 2015
A Full-Time Artist
Though he loved working with children Shasha felt his work in publishing had led him too far from making art. Shasha returned to full-time to oil painting and to his studies of landscape realism and impressionism. Today he is recognized as one of New England's definitive local artists. His numerous 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, Martime Museum of New London, Storyopolis Hollywood, The Society of Illustrators in New York.
His work has shared space with artists as diverse as Christo, Jeff Koons and Emile Gruppe.
A 2012 retrospective "The Art of Mark Shasha: Moonjellies and Daydreams" at The Maritime Museum of New London featured his book illustrations, sketchbooks and drawings from his early years.
Mark Shasha is one of New England's leading artists.* He is an elected member of The Guild of Boston Artists, The Copley Society and the Rockport Art Association. He is represented by Bonnie Crane Gallery, Willoughby Fine Art Gallery on Martha's Vineyard and a few other select galleries.
Meanwhile, his books still appear occasionally 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 celebrated as "one of the best books ever published for children" in some corners.**
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 (playing "Willy Wonka"), Fiddler on the Roof , Peter Pan, Blood Brothers and others. He won praise playing 'Cogsworth' in an award-winning stage production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast and again for a performance as Reuben in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Shasha has also appeared on television, film and video and has been the subject of National Public Radio programs over the years.*** He lives on the North Shore of Boston.
*Marblehead Reporter, Salem News
**Five in a Row
***Faith Middleton Show - Mark Shasha and the Moonjellies, 2005
"A national treasure"
- The Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut
"A man of unbounded creativity"
- North Shore Life Magazine
- Deborah Greel, MAA
- The Marblehead Reporter
"Alluring and dreamy..."
- The New York Times
"Shasha creates a world full of detail"
- The New York Times
"The rarest of artists..."
- The Salem Evening News
The Guild of Boston Artists Silver Medal
The Shining Star Award
The Antonio Cirino Award
Marion Vannett Ridgway Honor Award
The Copley Society
Allied Artists of America
OPA, Oil Painters of America
SCBWI, The Society of Children's Book
Writers and Illustrators
North Shore Art Association
Rockport Art Association
Marblehead Art Association