I was born into an artistic family, while our father was the painter, our mother had a very keen eye for design, and fortunately, they passed that desire down to my six younger siblings and me. Our father learned to paint when he attended Sacred Heart Academy in Fargo, ND, and I anticipated that one day I would also take lessons when I went to the Academy, which was soon to be renamed Shanley HS in 1951.
In 1950 I entered my freshman year and arrived with my new wooden box filled with every hue of the rainbow and found out the first year we would only be drawing. I was determined to start painting! When I informed Sister Anne that I knew how to draw, I was going to paint!
Sister contacted my parents and sweetly advised them that I was a bit headstrong and suggested private lessons at $1.50 an hour. I am sure it sounded like a bargain to my parents to have their willful, high strung daughter under the tutelage of a nun.
Little did I know that a fortuitous encounter with a handsome, strapping athlete would one day become my husband and significant promoter. I was about to meet and fall in love with my husband, Gerry. All the planets in the heavens were perfectly aligned.
After we attended a year in college, we decided to get married. In the ’50s, there was the draft, and Gerry decided to join the Naval Airforce to get his college paid. After we got married, we spent our honeymoon in Memphis, Tennessee. When Gerry graduated from electronic school first in his class, we got to pick our billet. We chose Jacksonville Beach, Florida. For two North Dakota and Minnesota kids who had never seen an ocean before, it was magical. We had a big baby blue Oldsmobile 88 convertible with a white top, and Sunday afternoons, we would jump in that big, old car and drive down to Daytona Beach with the top down. It was a magical time driving up and down on that beautiful white sand beach. It was not long after those summer of sunshine in fun; we found out we were pregnant with our first child. Like life, in general, is unpredictable, being in the Navy is a reality check to what the meaning of unpredictable means. In 1956 the North Koreans crossed over the DMZ into South Korea, which was an act of war. Gerry packed his sea bag, and along with his VA55 squadron report to Miramar Naval Airbase, where they would embark onto the, S, S Bennington aircraft carrier in San Diego, California. He had 24 hours before he had to fly out with his squadron. We threw our belonging in the back seat of the car, and Gerry drove me down to Orlando to stay with my parents until he returned home. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to your husband when you are six months pregnant and all the unknowns of a war. Gerry would not be there for the birth of his first son and got to hold him for the first time when he was six months old. No greater happiness as your loved one returning safely.
After Gerry’s return from overseas and we settled in San Diego, California, buying a house, and were soon to have our second son Mark. I would paint when the boys were napping or playing, needing that distraction to chill out raising two sons.
I soon was longing for home to be near family, so they could see their grandchildren grow up. I missed the cabin on Pelican Lake, where I spend my childhood summers. In the late ’50s and early ’60s, people didn’t jump on a plane and go home. We either went by car or if I went back with the boys, it was by train. Finally, I announced, I wanted to go home. Gerry started looking for an electronic engineering job in Minneapolis, and he was soon was hired by Honeywell.
The move was just in time as our third son Larry was about to be born. I could hardly handle two boys alone on a train without adding another.
In the 60’s I was a stay at home mother to three boys, so my only outlet was painting. As I took over the kitchen table, many a dinner was standing up eating at the counter. I was soon filling up the walls with wet paintings to keep out of the way of the boys.
My restless nature went in all crazy directions, and I would paint by day and write poetry at night. I also started reading about astrology and palm reading, which always interested me as a child. As a child, my grandmother told me about the gypsy women to came to her door and offered to read her palm for food.
My life took another turn when my Gerry had a chance meeting with someone who belonged to the Minnesota Writers Workshop, and he told them his wife was a writer. Once again, Gerry decided I should audition. I was a nervous wreck, but he was insistent. I had to submit three of my writings/poems for review by four published authors. You only needed three yes votes to become a member. I was allowed to attend the meeting until I was accepted or rejected. After four weeks of agony with passing my works back and forth at each session, I finally got four yes votes. I was indeed surprised since I have never considered myself a literary or a scholar. As in my art, writing was a way to express myself in sorrow, happiness, and, most of all, love. Painting is an expression of your vision of the world as you see it, and poetry is the window to your soul.
I soon won a few awards for short stories and poems. I had some poems published in a local newspaper poetry corner. I also had a poem selected for an anthology of poems showcasing poets’ thoughts in the 21st century. I am like most artists we are always looking for a new high or new project that will excite us or just trying to find a place where we fit in.
My loving, meticulous husband never seemed to mind this chaotic household.
As usual, In the summer of 1963, the three boys and I packed up and moved to my parent’s lake cabin on Pelican Lake. I would drag my paints along, and in the afternoons, I would paint while the grandparents watched the boys. Gerry would commute from Minneapolis to the Detroit Lakes area.
Gerry would drive up on Friday night, but this one time, he informed me he wanted me to come back to Minneapolis because he had signed me up for an art show. When I protested, he said, ” I already paid the $5 fee, and I want my money back.”
So that show turned into 31 years, showing my art at the Uptown Art Show on the corner of Hennepin and 31st Avenue. When things were going slow, I would pass out flyers that read, ” Marilyn’s not dead, she is at the Bus Stop on 31st and Hennepin. I was taking advantage of Marilyn Monroe’s famous first movie she made. The Age of Aquarius was in full swing, and people with their crazy costumes would saunter down the street, bringing me glasses of wine and a little Doobie. Astrology was the new age thing, and I soon was reading palms along with a quick analysis of their signs for a small fee. My boys spent their time at the bowling alley across the street; they would only show up when they needed more money for food. Our family was like a small band of gypsies following the art shows around the Minneapolis area. The most exciting pass time was watching humanity in all their wild costumes. I still love the music and ballads from that era.
After purchasing a home in 1967 in Plymouth, and my youngest son went off to school, I decided to supplement our income by applying for a medical claim examiner position. I had studied to be an x-ray and lab technician and knew all the medical terminology. After a few years, they asked me to run the pilot program for the second surgical opinion.
In 1990 Gerry had just received an award for managerial excellence when Honeywell dropped a bombshell that they were selling the Ordinance portion to ATK. Since Gerry was a middle manager, his job was in jeopardy, so he decided to take the buy out. While looking for employment in December of 1990, Gerry became critically ill. A strep virus had attacked his heart. He spent three months in ICU on a heat-lung pump keeping him alive. The condition was very debilitating, and mus he had five open-heart surgery,s in all the 5th was performed by Dr. Lao, who headed the organ transplant program at the University of Minnesota after everyone else turned him down.
In 1994 we received word that we were going to have our first grandchild, and soon another six would follow. My husband and I couldn’t wait to babysit and take our young grandchildren camping to the North Shore. I found a new passion, and that was my “grandchildren.”
I continued to paint sporadically for a family who needed a new painting to match their decor.
After my husband’s death a few years ago, I found solace in painting once again. It all started when my daughter-in-law requested a new art for her newly decorated home, and told me she trusted me to do something beautiful. It gave me great freedom without restrains.
I always wanted to do more abstract three dimensional paintings using natural materials, and that success opened me up to a new exciting discovery. My first love will always be the impressionist, but now is a time of a new adventure in my later years.
My family and friends have encouraged me to share my creativity once again. I want to spend my retirement years doing what I love, sharing my passion for art with those who enjoy my creative vision. I wish to share my website to give you a view of the artwork that inspires me to live my dream.
In the words of Joseph Campbell, “follow your bliss.”