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Johanna Nitzke Marquis and Richard Marquis: A Commentary on Nature and the Indy 500


The Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA) opens Commentary on Nature and the Indy 500 by the wife and husband team of Johanna Nitzke Marquis and Richard Marquis on January 11, 2003. A reception for the artists will be held from 2 to 5 pm on January 11. The exhibition runs through April 6, 2003. (left: Johanna Nitzke Marquis, Bear This in Mind, 2001, watercolor, mixed media, 29 x 29 x 5 inches, Photo: R. Marquis)

Johanna Nitzke Marquis' assemblages breathe new life into found objects that are both sentimental and eclectic. Her watercolor paintings are centrally located, usually building upon an old postcard, and combined with mixed media forming a multi-layered collage. These collections of nostalgia are nestled in vintage boxes and frames, altogether fashioning a garden of items through which the viewer may wander and stroll.

A collector at heart, her work reads like an anthology of those items that come into one's life as mementos: sentimental and strange, with deep personal meaning. By grouping these into collage artworks, Nitzke Marquis allows the singular elements to have a distinctly new purpose. Akin to one collecting bundles of multi-colored flowers, she places objects into beautiful elaborate bouquets. Collectively, the assemblage brings forth histories and stories of mixed journeys and memories.

From Wisconsin, Nitzke Marquis came to the Northwest in the early 1970's where she received her Bachelor of Arts at Evergreen State College in Olympia. She served as the Director of the Visual Arts Program for the Washington State Arts Commission and has shown her work in the Northwest for the past ten years. Photos of her gardens were recently published in Sasquatch Press's book, "Artists in their Gardens. (right: Richard Marquis, Wheeled Vessels, 2002, glass, wood, brass, dimensions vary, each approximately 5 inches high, Photo: R. Marquis)

Richard Marquis regularly brings an amused touch to an over serious world. His MoNA installation, a sentimental look at the model cars built by young boys, features a fleet of Wheeled Vessels on a 30-foot speedway, coursing through the gallery. A kid's dream made into an artist's mid-career reality. Although the colors could be found in a crayon box, these objects are composed of highly breakable glass.

Often connected to "California Funk Art", Marquis studied at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1970s when the faculty was creating works that were a mixture of the sentimental and the quirky. Marquis was one of the first Americans to study in Murano and learn techniques, which, for centuries were reserved for only the island's glassblowers. Over the past 30 years he has perfected working with cross sections of pulled glass cane known as murrine and fancy twisted canes of patterns of color called filigrana. He always adds a punch -- pop culture, outrageous icons, funky symbolism, bold colors and forms that are quirky at the very least.


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