The Lewiston Evening Journal (Maine) noted, on July 22, 1893, that, “Mr. Mark Fenderson, who has been visiting Farmington, returned on Friday to New York, where he is employed as one of the artists on the The Recorder.” A 1911 issue (from July to December) of Life magazine interviewed him; excerpts below:
“Mr. Fenderson, we desire to know where you were born.”
“And when did you first become an artist?” Mr. Fenderson was plainly embarrassed by this question, so we altered it in accordance with nature.
“I believe not. I just came up quite naturally. After being born in Minnesota I lived in Maine, and after arriving at the tea stage in my career found myself as far West as Chicago. It was then that I began to draw pictures.”
“And what were they like?”
“I wouldn’t dare tell you explicitly. It is sufficient to say that they came under the head of cartoons. I suppose I must have grown tired of Chicago, and so I found myself drifting East, and in the course of time I sought Pittsburg as a haven of refuge.”
“I continued to draw cartoons for the papers for some three years. Then once more the spirit beckoned.”
“And you came—?”
“To New York—”
“And to Life. Yes. I haven’t yet recovered from the crisis of having my first picture in Life.”
“…And now that we have you regularly installed as one of our best contributors, can you not tell us something more about yourself? You are too modest, and not explicit enough.”
Mr. Fenderson smiled.
“I can tell you of a thing that once happened to me, which it seems to me worth while recording. One day when I was a boy I called in Boston upon F.G. Attwood.”
“You mean the Life artist who used to delight as many of our readers.”
“Yes. Even at that time I had artistic aspirations, and I asked Mr. Attwood if he thought it paid to be an artist.”
“And what was his reply?”
“He said: ‘My boy, it is the only thing that pays, whether you get any money or not.’ And I have been thinking of that ever since.”
In the 1900 census, he lived in Manhattan, New York City at 54 Union Square. He had been married six years to Anna, who was not counted. The year of his birth was recorded as 1862. He drew the strip Mannikinland for the New York World beginning April 1900. According to a passport application, the couple traveled out of the country in September 1904; the destination was not stated. His address was 52 Union Square. In December 1904 he produced The Baby for McClure.
He lived in Manhattan at 2 West 18th Street, according to the 1910 census. He was a magazine illustrator and Annie was an artist. The American Art Directory, Volume 10 (1913) listed the couple at “4 West 18th St., New York, N.Y.” In American Art Annual Volume 12 (1915) their address was “144 West 23d St., New York, N.Y.”
The 1930 census listed Fenderson in Hastings on Hudson, New York at 423 Farragut Avenue. He was a college teacher and his wife made miniature paintings. The New York Times said he was an art instructor at the Townsend Harris High School in New York. A Richmond Times-Dispatch article, dated February 16, 1930, reported his artistic development in wood carving.
Fenderson’s point of view was of something totally different. Essentially an artist and illustrator, he is a skilled draftsman with an unusual feeling for perspective and proportion. With a complete disregard for the hoary traditions of wood carving, he considered its possibilities as a medium for the art that he knew. With wood as paper and tools for a pencil he took it up avidly, but with no idea of all that was to be learned: the preparation of the wood, the use of various tools, and the technique of getting on wood the effects that were in his mind.
Needing surfaces to decorate he built furniture of his own design; first chests, then tables, chairs, a bed, a desk, a desk-easel for Mrs. Fenderson’s miniature painting—all for the furnishing of his studio and apartment. With each piece there came greater facility in the use of tools, more insight into the possibilities of the medium, and a distinct advance over those that had gone before….
The Lewiston Evening Journal Magazine, February 10, 1945, profiled Fenderson.