An Angle On Art

An Angle On Art

Mark Romero’s Jazz Flies, tied as art

  • By: Bob White

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Most sporting art, especially angling art, has a practical purpose or function. Painters, photographers and printmakers try to capture a moment in time and preserve memories. Sculptors recreate objects cherished by anglers, be they fish or fly. Rod makers, net makers, boat builders and fly tiers create the tools with which we pursue our passion.

It wasn’t until I discovered Mark Romero and became familiar with his whimsical creations, his wondrously strange, non-functional flies, that I met an artist who creates angling art solely for art’s sake.

When I asked Romero to describe his art, he didn’t talk about his flies or about entomology, material or technique. Instead, he considered his life. “My art is the culmination of a lifetime of living.Sixty-one years of traveling the world and searching for truth and love. My work is an attempt to share what I’ve learned, and bring a little beauty into the world.”

And then he set me straight about his flies being non-functional. “My flies as art are functional,” he said. “Function is not determined by use. It is determined by what is gained from its appreciation, its mere existence. My work provides others and myself with peace and serenity. I know that simple beauty is what gives the world magic. Every fly is a miracle, and a bright moment.”

Romero’s call to be an artist began early. By fourth grade he was constantly drawing, and his designs were often complicated. He took art classes through high school, and majored in college art. He also studied art history. After college he studied abstract art independently, and lived in a community of artistic friends. “In fact,” he said, “musicians and artists are about the only friends I’ve ever had. In the end, music, particularly jazz, was the strongest influence in my life and art.”

Romero finds strong parallels between creating flies and jazz. “They are both commitments to the truth,” he told me, “and a lifelong journey to the center of my soul. Tying artistic flies purely for that objective is the same experience as fly-fishing, it’s a quest of discovery.”

Romero’s belief that music’s soul lies in its innate improvisational spirit directs his art; his flies are original one-of-a-kinds. There are no recipes for his flies and they are never repeated. “Just as I do not play the same solo on any given jazz composition,” he says.

While art began early in Romero’s life, fly-tying came later. “I took my first fly-tying lessons, a series of weekly classes, in 1993, a week before my 43rd birthday.

“After 10 years of intense study I felt confident and competent enough to look beyond the conventional and translate all I had learned into a way of painting and sculpting on a hook. Tying an artistic fly is like playing a solo concert. You put forth the effort for yourself first, and pray it is understood, enjoyed and found to be useful in other’s lives. I find joy in being a creative person who improvises at all times. Art is a way of life, and a fly tied as art is a window into the soul of its creator.”

Sadly, Mark Romero died this past March, after a battle with cancer.

Contributing Editor Bob White is a writer and artist; see his work at