Marcus Zotter at work.

Creative Living

by Julie Clay

YOU COULD EASILY DISCOVER Naples-based painter/sculptor Marcus Zotter’s work online via his website, rootsstudionaples.com. Social media is overflowing with images of his creations. Just Instagram him or find him on Facebook. Better yet, put down the phone and discover art happening in real time at one of his live art events. Music provided either by a band or his girlfriend Beatriz (DJ Honey Bee) fuel the creativity as the magic materializes onto the canvas in front of your eyes. If you’ve been out and about in downtown Naples or Fort Myers recently, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen the spark coming to life on an oversize canvas while the music plays. Yeah, he’s that guy.

“My goal is to be out in the open and have people know who I am,” Marcus says. “One of the first things that I started down here was at 7th Avenue Social (in downtown Naples). That was the first thing that was big and open for everybody to see. They have this 8 ft x 16 ft chalkboard on the far wall of this rectangular room that they have artists do work on. At night, a band comes in and performs in front of it. I first did their chalkboard before the band would play. That developed into my doing live artwork while a band is playing. It’s a nice place to demonstrate to people what I do.”

And just what does he do?

Marcus responds, “Sculpture is my favorite. My love is for drawing, but there is something about making a three-dimensional life size sculpture... I just created a human being.” We’re unsure if that’s a reference to his remarkable giant portrait of the Frankenstein creature or not. “I was a sculpting major so I’ve learned how to do portraits of everybody, the full figure.,’ he continues. “The celebrity martinis are all sculpture.”

As a contributing artist to the annual Naples Celebrity Martini Glass Auction fundraiser benefitting non-profits like PAWS Assistance Dogs, Kidz Act, Honor Flight and other local charities, Marcus has been able to build familiarity while also helping to raise much-needed funds. Each glass incorporates an intricate sculpture and homage to an A-list celebrity and an autograph, often fetching thousands of dollars. His contributions this year include Ben Affleck’s Batman from the recent movie and TV star Andy Cohen.

Poke your head into his cozy studio located just off famed 5th Avenue in downtown Naples to view his various creations, as well as whatever Marcus is currently working on. Many of his oversize portraits are homages to recently deceased celebrities, Gene Wilder and Arnold Palmer among them. “One of my favorites is Prince. I think I really nailed the look on him. It was a live piece I did in Fort Myers during a pop up art show with three other artists. I think it was a really strong piece. I did it right after he died,” Marcus shares. “I’m not picking someone at random, rather I do something people are thinking about. Gene Wilder was the one after Prince. He had just passed away. Halloween was the Frankenstein inspiration. It’s always some kind of tie-in.” He adds, “Arnold Palmer also seems to be an inspiration lately.”

Marcus is happy to stand out from the Naples crowd, “My artwork is very unlike anything else in downtown Naples. They usually stick to a conservative style, but my artwork is more of Miami and Fort Myers. You don’t have to stick to a beach and pelican scene all day long.”

His rather atypical studio may have something to do with his creative inspiration. Roots Studio is not just a spot for Marcus’ work, but also a professional hair salon in the back of the space. Roots Beauty Studio is owned and operated by Marcus’ girlfriend, Beatriz Hernandez. When she’s not DJ’ing one of his live art events, she serves a steady clientele who are privy to a firsthand view of Zotter’s work.

Marcus says, “We haven’t had one person come in and not be interested. Eighty percent of the time my large commissions are done for people who are customers of Beatriz

first,” adding “It’s because these women are there for an hour, two hours at a time and they’re staring at my artwork. They talk about it. My biggest goal is to be that two-person show that people can hire. DJ and live portrait artist. It would be one cool spectacle going on. Anytime downtown there are events taking place I use her as my music in the shop. Our odd concept is benefitting both of us.”

Beatriz concurs, “I’m a graffiti artist and collector and doing hair is in my roots. I want people to see it as an art form more than a service. When people walking in first see the artwork then see me doing hair, the first comment is, ‘I’ve been looking for an artist to do my hair.’” In fact, she explains that their unique presentation draws other imaginative, like-minded individuals into the shop. “We have this hub of creative, artistic people. Because our community is open arms we’re open arms with everyone else.”

This network of art and hair design has helped to expand their reach to downtown Fort Myers as part of the monthly First Friday Art Walk event. A client of Beatriz’ invited them to set up each month in front of her store, The Art of Fashion & Moore Boutique. Marcus paints while Beatriz does her signature silk tinsel weave into customers’ hair. The tinsel has really taken off. Beatriz says, “I have women who travel the world to get those done. It’s become a real image. I didn’t think anything cool would come from it and here we are.”
Hailing from the Philadelphia area, Marcus is already gaining quite the fanbase in Southwest Florida. He studied art at the famed Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, focusing on sculpting, painting and drawing. “I learned a lot from the figure, the portrait,” he says. “That’s really my focus in my artwork. It’s where I learned the urban street style and graffiti influence, as well as the fine art of old masters.

Coming to Naples only a few years ago, Marcus knew he needed to get involved. Doing non-profit work seemed a logical move. He recalls, “I got started with the sixth annual Naples International Film Festival poster. I ran into the right people and one art director put me in the right hands immediately. I moved onto the Celebrity Martini Glass Auction.” He continues, “Coming from Philadelphia, it’s a bigger city, but Naples is a faster pace. You can do one project after the next. I met Beatriz and she actually was the one that allowed me the possibilities of showing my art on 5th Avenue. We’ve had that location on Park Street the last year and a half. After a year I’m already getting tons of commissions. People are signing up to come see my shows.”

Several clients are also apparently wanting him to do portraits of their dogs. Marcus was commissioned at one time to immortalize a client’s dog and when he posted the portrait on Facebook, the requests started rolling in. Where we would assume the biggest challenge is getting Sparky to sit still (picturing giant bucket of treats and Cesar Milan), but Marcus says often they send him a photograph and he does the portrait from that.

Aside from his regular gigs around both downtown Naples and Fort Myers, Marcus will also be participating in the ‘For the Love of Art’ fundraiser celebration at the von Liebig Art Center on February 25, featuring gourmet cuisine, cocktails, music and artists all coalescing for an amazing night.

If you’re going to set goals, might as well go big. Marcus ruminates, “A big dream of mine is to become a mural artist. The bigger the better. I would love to do a mural on the side of a hundred-story building. That would be really cool, creating artwork for the public to see.” •

Roots Studio is located at 524 Park St. in downtown Naples. Call 215-806-1954 for information. For information about the ‘For the Love of Art’ fundraiser at The von Liebig Art Center, call 262-6517.

January-February 2017