I saw this amazing artist on Facebook about two weeks ago; I thought his paintings are hauntingly beautiful, and the colors he use are warm and perfect for fall. As I was researching about Chris Mars and his gorgeous artworks, I found out that his passion came from something very personal and deep.

Chris’s work is largely influenced by his brother Joe’s experiences with mental illness, specifically schizophrenia. On Chris’s website he writes, “Joe experienced his first pronounced episode at age 16, and was immediately institutionalized. As a result, I acquired an early and lasting fear that if you are not one of society’s ‘Normal’ members, then you are likely to be labeled, whisked embarrassingly away from your family, stripped of your freedom, drugged and humiliated.”

According to him, visiting his brother as a small child allowed Chris to experience sights, sounds, and even smells, all of which are now prevalent in his artwork. “As an adult I can comprehend mental illness, even the need to institutionalize people. But as a child, my brother’s schizophrenia was met with horror, depression, confusion and fear: Fear of the system, fear of the words, the hospitals, the demons others saw. Fear that it would happen to me next. Through my own need to create, to communicate, I have gained through my work an understanding and insight into these early, lasting, and tragic events. I am continually compelled to explore this.”

Born and currently based in Minneapolis, MN, Chris has had his pieces displayed in various public collections all over the country. In his home state, some of his art can be seen at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Duluth’s The Tweed. His public exhibitions have been held at The Steensland Art Museum in Northfield, Fredrick Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, and various other places across the States.

Other than his paintings, Chris also dabbles in film and animation. On top of that, he is also a musician, having released four solo albums and played drums for The Replacements, a band he co-founded with Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson and Tommy Stinson.

Here are some of Chris’s paintings:

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For more about Chris and to read his statement about mental illness, visit his website. You could also like his Facebook page. Thanks for reading!