For Gary Marks, coin design is all about the art.
“The best art has the ability to speak to your sensibilities and in some instances to reach out and grab your heart,” Marks said in parting remarks to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee from which he retired last month.
Marks, who served eight years on the CCAC and the past five as its chairman, pointed to Mint sculptor Don Everhart’s Free Minds design prepared as part of the Monuments Men Congressional Gold Medal Program as the most personally impactful design to him.
The inscription on the design reads: “Art is the visible evidence of the activity of free minds.”
That statement elegantly communicates the link between art and its literal and evidentiary place in human freedom, Marks said.
“The design’s beautiful portrayal of the symbols of art; visual art, performing art and literature, drive home the point,” he said. “And the butterfly, symbol of beauty, grace, peace, complexity and delicacy is the perfect image to convey the soul of fine art.”
In many ways, the design speaks to the essence of what the CCAC and the Mint do in the area of coin design, he said.
“We are all players in the conveyance of art, the evidence of free minds, to the nation and world.
“And for me and my service here, as many of you have heard me say numerous times, it has always been about the art.”
Marks also pointed to the Congressional gold medal honoring Suu Kyi as a defender of Liberty that was designed and sculpted by Everhart as another design that was beautifully executed and speaks deeply to him.
In early 2011, this Committee published the “Blueprint for Advancing Artistic Creativity and Excellence in United States Coins and Medals.”
Marks said the Mint’s staff embraced and implemented the blueprint’s recommendations.
“The changes were many and meaningful.”
He called the issuance of the 24-karat gold High Relief Liberty coin as a great success and testament to the advancement in coin design in the U.S.
“The accomplishment of better coin and medal designs is so important,” Marks said. “The designs on United States coins and medals are more than simple illustrations on small metal discs; they are expressions of the values, aspirations, and shared heritage of our Nation. They serve as illustrations to the world of the essence and the story of America.”
Marks was selected as one of three CCAC members appointed to represent the interests of the general public. He served as chairperson of the CCAC from March 2010 to May 2015.
Marks is the city manager in Lebanon, Ore.
This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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