Susan Calloway Fine Arts Presents Mark Giaimo The Secret Life of Toys

By Editorial Team on January 21, 2016

Fri, 22 January 2016 - Sat, 20 February 2016

Mark Giaimo, Knowledge and Wisdom, Oil on linen, 11 x 20. Courtesy of Susan Calloway Fine Arts.
Mark Giaimo, Knowledge and Wisdom, Oil on linen, 11 x 20. Courtesy of Susan Calloway Fine Arts.


Opening Reception: Friday, January 22 from 6pm to 8pm


Largely self-taught in a number of creative disciplines—a Pulitzer-prize nominated and award-winning political cartoonist and illustrator as well as a singer/guitarist/songwriter—Mark Giaimo enrolled in his first oil painting class in 2004. Within two years, he was accepted into the Post-Baccalaureate Graduate Program at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where he finished a semester before striking out on his own.

Whether painting still lifes of cheap plastic toys, portraits of friends, city landscape and plein air paintings, or political caricatures, Giaimo mixes the mundane with the sacred, 19th-century painting techniques with contemporary pulp and graphic illustration, that is both an homage to and satire of the past and present. His new paintings explore the mysterious pastimes of toys—their invisible struggles with life, death, and love.

Knowledge and Wisdom by Giaimo recently received 10th place in the National Portrait Society of America’s Members Only Competition in the Still Life Category.

Artist Statement
I am a representational artist, which implies painting that which you know, which in my case means my own life. I prefer working from direct observation, and throwing every ounce of energy, passion—one’s entire being, basically—into the painting, much like a method actor pours him or herself into a character.

I’ve been working on these paintings, which I call “Toy Lifes,” for the past eight years. Inspired by all the tchotchkes and kitsch strewn about in my colleagues’ cubicles, they stem from my desire to remove toys from their predictably commercial context and place them in a more elevated, artistic environment. By using cheap vinyl toys as stand-ins for live models, I create personal narratives from compositional dichotomies, posing questions not only on the value and meaning of traditional oil painting and its role in contemporary society, but more importantly, on the psychological narrative of my own life and the world we live in.

Gallery Hours:

  • Tuesday through Saturday: 10-6
  • Sunday and Monday by appointment

Susan Calloway Fine Arts is located at 1643 Wisonsin Ave. NW. For more information or visit