If you’ve wandered around Williston’s downtown area, you’ve probably seen some distinctive artwork adorning a few of the shop windows and displays, maybe a uniquely colored piano resting near the theater, or perhaps an event poster or flyer hanging in a window or tacked to a board in a shop. Regardless of where you’ve been, chances are you’ve seen the work of Mack Schroer, a creator who doesn’t see art as work, but as a lifestyle.
Schroer, who said he grew up on a steady stream of “The Simpsons and comics,” came to Williston from Kansas to work as a truck driver, but has spent the last year working as a freelance artist, creating unique pieces for individuals, businesses and organizations all around the area. Portraits, architecture, caricatures, still lifes, set design, comic books and animation...it seems there isn’t a medium that Schroer can’t tackle. Now the artist is showcasing his time in the area with a retrospective at the James Memorial Art Center.
Entitled “A Year In Williston,” Schroer’s exhibition at the James shows a variable smorgasbord of his work, from the eight-foot tall set panels he created for Entertainment Inc! productions of A Christmas Story, Antigone and Mamma Mia, to the smaller Pop Cars collection, a series of pop culture illustrations Schroer did utilizing the log book he used during his time driving truck. The show is multi-faceted, as Schroer described, and shows the remarkable range he has as a multi-media creator.
“It really is an all-encompassing year retrospective of my time here in Williston,” Schroer told the Williston Herald. “Ideally, the hope is to become a successful working artist. So I hope that people come away with the idea that an artist within the local community can be a benefactor to local business by improving design, marketing and aesthetic, while earning a decent income.”
Schroer has created one-of-a-kind pieces for display at Castle Framing, Books on Broadway and Cooks on Main, just to name a few, as well as creating event posters and ad campaigns and animation for Entertainment Inc!, Red Rock Ford and Choice Recovery. His artwork will also be proposed by the James Memorial’s board of directors at the upcoming North Dakota Art Gallery Association convention in Dickinson, where if chosen it will tour various galleries throughout the state.
“A Year in Williston” will be on display at the James throughout the month of September. The James is hosting an artist reception for Schroer on Friday, Sep. 6 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Schroer will be on hand to discuss his work and speak to attendees about his inspiration and process. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Sunday. The James Memorial Art Center is located at 621 First Avenue West.