A text from Charles Lawrance came across Mark Peria’s phone: “Can you help me in the gallery?” Mark headed over, parking his car near their Annapolis Arts District co-op gallery, FinArt, but a familiar Pennsylvania license plate caught his eye. He spotted his friend Jim, who made a surprise trip to Annapolis.

Mark Peria

“Hey, I thought I’d come down and hang out with you for your birthday weekend,” Jim said.

“That’s awesome! I just have to stop by the gallery really quick,” answered Mark.

The two walked up West Street, but the chance encounter was only the first of Mark’s surprises for the night. Mark entered the space only to find he was the guest of honor in a room full of friends waiting to kick off a celebration. A beer toast and good company was a great way to start an unexpected Friday night of festivities, but this crew had more up their sleeve for their beloved artist friend.

Mark Peria Pyrography by Mark Peria

Viewers of Peria’s work may be shocked to find (I know I was) that he is actually red-green color blind. This has never stopped him from making incredible artwork in a variety of media including acrylic, markers on Mylar, and even smoke (also known as pyrography). One of Mark’s recent smoke paintings hung in the Love Annapolis group fundraising show, benefiting The Capital Memorial Scholarship Fund. The piece portrayed the five fallen members of The Capital, and now resides permanently in their newsroom.

When I ask Mark how he manages working color into his pieces, he replies, “I usually like to stick to the primaries and whatever happens, happens.”

What happens is a dreamy, surreal expression of his subjects – faces you may or may not recognize, but undoubtedly will be captivated by. That hasn’t stopped him from accidentally grabbing purple instead of black, or making a skin tone more pink than intended. While he can ask his studio mates for a consult if he runs into trouble, Mark was intrigued by the idea of the EnChroma glasses. This stylish technology corrects red-green color blindness, but at a near $400 price tag, the glasses were a luxury Mark was not going to splurge on anytime soon.

His friends conspired, and a secret Facebook group was organized to purchase a pair for Mark’s birthday.

“I don't know anyone on the planet that would appreciate the gift of seeing color more than this man,” his friend Nick wrote in the call to action.

That night, with his friends surrounding him inside FinArt, he opened his gift with stunned excitement. When the moment for the big reveal came, Mark literally could not believe his eyes! The paintings that surrounded him every day took on new life, including his own.

“I’ve never seen purple before!” Peria confessed as he examined his popular portrait of the late icon David Bowie.

Mark Peria

Since having the EnChroma glasses, Mark has enjoyed the bright foliage of fall in Annapolis, a vibrant trip to the Renaissance Festival, and a new approach to painting. His eyes adjust to the corrected color the more he wears the glasses, and his friends raised enough funds to contribute towards an indoor pair as well. But above all, Mark says he was most touched by how everyone came together for him, feeling grateful to be part of Annapolis’ incredible arts community.

Mark Peria

Charles Lawrance happily recalled the night saying, “That was one of the coolest things I’ve seen a very long time.”

You can check out the colorful works of FinArt Gallery (214 West Street) in the Annapolis Arts District, and snag a stuffing waffle with gravy and some local art on Black Friday for their Sharksgiving event!


Images courtesy of Lindsay Bolin of LBoCraft