Biography Diane Marsh
The paintings of Diane Marsh have evolved over 40 years to portray universal issues which are both deeply personal and at the same time, profoundly human. They encompass a dedicated search for truth, beauty, and emotional honesty while ultimately revealing images of pain, sorrow, loss hope healing and transcendence. Her early path as an artist led her to graduate school at the University of Buffalo (1976-78). This was a dynamic period in media arts, film, and photography in Buffalo, New York. The alternative art space “Hallwalls” was created by artists and fellow students Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo and Charlie Clough. The Albright-Knox Art Museum in Buffalo also served as a rich source of inspiration and education. In 1979 Marsh received a substantial grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation(Canada) and like many of her peer group in Buffalo, she moved to New York City. After taking up residence in a lower-Manhattan loft on Duane Street for a year, Marsh received a grant from the RAiR Foundation (1980-1981) in Roswell, NM. Her year in New Mexico fostered a love of the American west. At the end of the grant year she returned to New York to begin again.
The art scene in New York City in the early 1980’s was exploding and transformative. Marsh was living in the culture of this time. Artists interacted as they danced at the Mudd Club, attended openings at the New Museum, SoHo galleries, the Drawing Center, or hung out at Puffy's Tavern in Tribeca, and Finelli's bar in Little Italy. Female artists were struggling for recognition in a male-centric scene and the Guerrilla Girls were born of the inequities. New York artists Cindy Sherman, Eric Fischl, David Salle, Ken Friedman, Robert Longo, John Torreano, Ellen Carey, Sandy Skogland, and April Gornik were all rising stars. Media was influential on much of the artwork of the 1980's and expanded the definition of painting. It could now be conceptual, photographic, figurative or expressive. Subjects could be mythical, political, personal or social. Expressionistic painting was at the forefront of the American Neo-expressionist scene. Immersed in this dynamic time period as a young artist, Marsh's work was pushed and influenced by these ideas. Her own work was developing into a form of figurative painting with psychologically heightened content and a meticulous, “minimalist” painting style, driven by universal human concerns.
When Marsh returned to New York City from New Mexico in 1981, she gave up the Tribeca loft space and moved into a four room, fourth-floor walkup on Broome Street in Little Italy shared with her partner. The infamous Magoo's Tavern in Tribeca traded artwork for food and bar tabs with many of the downtown artists. Marsh worked all week at Magoo's and painted on weekends. The Allan Frumkin Gallery in NYC was an important gallery for contemporary figurative artwork and Marsh was greatly encouraged by Mr. Frumkin. Eventually the director at the Frumkin/Struve Gallery in Chicago contacted her and represented and sold Marsh's early paintings in the Chicago gallery (1984-1988). At this time the gallery represented many artists of renown; Philip Pearlstein, Leon Golub, Joan Brown, Roy De Forest, Robert Arneson, James Valerio and others. In 1985 she received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in painting, supported by grant jurors, Joan Brown, Audrey Flack and Pat Steir. She was invited to show in exhibitions at the Ruth Seigel Gallery(NYC) and other venues, and her career was on an upward track. Several months after she had received the National Endowment for the Arts Grant she experienced the tragic death of her partner. In 1986 Marsh left New York City for New Mexico to heal surrounded by the vast beauty of the desert Southwest. She was welcomed back to a 4000 Sq. Ft. loft space by art patron Donald Anderson in Roswell, NM.
Marsh lived in Santa Fe, NM (1988-1998) In 1989 The Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe invited her to have a solo exhibition of paintings. Janus Gallery in Santa Fe was a beautiful contemporary exhibition space and represented Marsh's work. Artists and creative people like Terry & Jo Harvey Allen, Emmi Whitehorse, Jerry West, Meridel Rubinstein, Arlene LewAllen (owner of the LewAllen Gallery), Suby Bowden and Robert Gaylor, (founder and Director of the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe) became friends and were all part of a dynamic art scene along with so many others. Actress and performance artist Jo Harvey Allen posed for two of Marsh's paintings. During this time the Hess Collection in Napa, CA purchased work for their Museum and Marsh had solo exhibitions in Denver and Los Angeles. Work was also purchased for the State Capitol Art Collection in Santa Fe, The Albuquerque Museum, the New Mexico State University Gallery in Las Cruces, by the actors Amy Madigan and Ed Harris and many other private collections.
While living in Santa Fe, Marsh married and had a child. The family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska for 3 years and Marsh received a Nebraska State Arts Council Grant (2001). From there they moved back to Roswell for another year on a residency grant from the RAiR Foundation and built an adobe house in Abiquiu, New Mexico on 14 acres of land that opened up to the grand expanse of wilderness that is the Carson National Forest. They moved to Abiquiu in 2003. Marsh received a grant from the John Anson Kittridge Foundation (2003), had an exhibition at the Museum of Nebraska Art (2005) and a solo exhibition at Addison Arts Gallery in Santa Fe, NM (2006). Her paintings were added to the collections of the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, NE and the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, NE. Recently an early painting “Lost”, was accepted into the collection of the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art (2016). Now with her son in college, and a divorce behind her, Marsh delves fully and deeply into her studio life. She lives immersed in the western experience in central New Mexico on 70 acres, surrounded by a 50,000 acre cattle ranch. Experiences in nature, love of wilderness and the beauty of the American West continue to be a guiding force in the life and art of Diane Marsh.