Objects of Prolonged Endeavor
Lumpy Elephant (1997),
blown glass; murrine technique
POSSIBLY BECAUSE Richard Marquis' first art instructors (at University of California, Berkeley) were predominantly clay artists Peter Voulkos and Jim Melchert, who had themselves come to prominence during the heyday of San Francisco Bay Area Funk art, Marquis has never abandoned lessons learned about the relative nature of materials - their moot preciosity and commonality, and how to dismiss the sillier arguments about the yin/yang of art versus craft.
At the forefront of the latest craft revival to sweep the Seattle area, Marquis has proven himself to be an artist who incidentally works in glass, first by becoming technically proficient in this unwieldy medium, and secondly by bringing to his work provocative questions about the nature of art, itself.
Before all of this, Marquis was the encyclopedic and habitual collector of objects: kitsch, talismanic, goofy, boy-engineer and Robinson Crusoe, who took particular interest in collecting things no one else sought... the sort of things parents unforgivably throw away when the family moves.
In his maturity, Marquis happily lives in the same assemblaged world of rehabilitated junk and bastard forms which confront definition and frustrate shallow esthetes. Even "vulgarity," (which is as conditional to the new "glass art" as its "seductiveness") is in the eye of the beholder - i.e. a preference for Chihuly's or Marquis' brand - but Marquis presses the point a little more emphatically.
A companion, longer-term exhibition titled Richard Marquis Objects: 1967-1997 is slated at the Seattle Art Museum (December 18 - August 2) as is a book, Richard Marquis Objects by Tina Oldnow, which approaches a December 1 release.
© Ted Lindberg