The paintings of Diane Marsh have evolved over 40 years to portray universal issues which are both deeply personal and profoundly human. They encompass a dedicated search for truth, beauty, and emotional honesty, while ultimately revealing images of pain, the sorrow of loss, hope, healing, and transcendence. Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Marsh was a young artist defined by the "Pictures Generation", in graduate school, and part of the Bufflao avant-garde during a period of dynamic expansion in media arts, film, and photography. Fellow students Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo, and Charlie Clough founded the alternative space, "Hallwalls" and after graduate school they all left Buffalo for the larger art world of New York City. In 1979 Marsh received a grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, moved to New York, and set up a studio in Lower Manhattan. In 1980 Marsh was invited by artist Harmony Hammond to particiapte in an exhibition featuring artists Ida Applebroog, Harmony Hammond, Joyce Kosloff, Pat Lasch, Miriam Shapiro & others called "Home Work: The Domestic Environment Reflected In Work By Contemporary Women Artists". From 1980 to 1981 The Roswell Residence Program invited her to spend a year in New Mexico, at the end of which, she returned to New York.
The art scene in Manhattan in the early 1980s was exploding, and Diane Marsh with her studio in Tribeca, was living and painting right in the middle of it. Artist's hot spots were the Mudd Club, the newly formed New Museum, the galleries in Soho, Finelli's Bar on Prince Street, and Puffy's Tavern in Tribecca. Female artist's struggle for recognition spawned the Gorilla Girls. Eric Fischl, David Salle, Cindy Sherman, April Gornik, Robert Longo, John Torreano, Ellen Carey, Sandy Skogland, Leon Golub, and Julian Schnabel were all rising stars. Media and the onset of Post Modernism influenced the artwork of the early '80s and helped expand the definition of painting whose subject matter could be mythical, political, personal, or social. Neo Expressionist painting was at its peak, and emerging in a alternative movement were the appropriation artists Richard Pettibone, Richard Prince, and Sherrie Levine. As a young artist in the midst of all this frenetic activity, Marsh's own work began to evolve and mature. Her figurative works expanded out of the pattern & decoration movement of the late 1970's and early 1980's. Her paintings became psychologically charged and her technique became a meticulous, painting style driven by her interest in universal human concerns. Allan Frumkin Gallery, located "Uptown", was an important gallery for figurative artists. In 1984, the gallery's Chicago branch, Frumkin/Struve Gallery, added Marsh to their stable which resulted in her early works being exhibited alongside Phillip Pearlstein, William T. Wiley, Tom Uttech, James Valerio, Joan Brown, Roy De Forest, Robert Arneson, and others. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1985, the jurors being; Pat Steir, Audrey Flack, and Joan Brown. Her work was featured in “Selections from the Frito-Lay Collection” in 1985 along with artists, Frank Stella, Jim Dine, Bruce Nauman, Sol Lewitt, Italo Scanga, Nancy Graves, Helen Frankenthaler, David Hockney, and Robert Rauschenberg. Roy Lichtenstein once said, “You weren’t a young artist unless you traded with Best Products, washing machines, stereo equipment, whatever they needed for their lofts.” Marsh’s work was featured in the Best Products Corporation Collection in 1985, acquired through a trade for a washing machine while living in New York. She began showing works with Ruth Siegal Gallery in New York as well as other venues around the city and her career was on an upward track. But several months later she suffered the sudden death of her partner. In an attempt to heal herself from that loss, Marsh abandoned her life in New York and moved to New Mexico in 1986.
Marsh lived in Santa Fe from 1988-1998. In 1989 she had a solo exhibition at the Center For Contemporary Arts. The vibrant Santa Fe cultural scene included artists like Terry and Joe Harvey Allen, and Jo Harvey Allen was the subject of several Marsh paintings. During the Santa Fe years Marsh had solo exhibitions in Denver, Santa Fe, and Los Angeles, resulting in the Hess Collection in California acquiring two works for their Museum. Works were also included in the collections of, The Albuquerque Museum, The State Capitol Art Collection in Santa Fe, The New Mexico State University Gallery in Las Cruces, actors Amy Madigan and Ed Harris, along with many other private collections. Marsh married, her son was born in 1997, and the family moved to Lincoln, Nebraska where she received a Nebraska State Arts Council Grant in 2001. In 2002 Marsh was invited on her second, year-long residence grant through the RAIR Foundation and with her family moved back to Roswell, NM. In 2003 Marsh moved to Abiquiu, New Mexico, established a studio, and was awarded a John Anson Kittridge Foundation Grant. She had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Nebraska Art in 2005, and at the Addison Gallery in Santa Fe in 2006. The Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, NE, The New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, NM, The Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, NE and the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in St. Joseph, MO have all acquired Marsh's works for their permanent collections. After many years of personal sacrifice for family and a divorce behind her, Marsh continues on in her studio with two recent solo exhibitons. In 2019 she exhibited in "Alcoves 2020" at the New Mexico Museum of Art (Santa Fe, NM) and in 2021 "Diane Marsh: A Merging of Worlds" opened at Western New Mexico University (Silver City, NM). Currently, Marsh delves intently into her studio, preparing a new painting for the Clea Rsky NYC alternative space in Brooklyn, NY on exhibit March/April 2022. She was awarded an artist resdency grant through the Jentel Foundation in 2022 and will be heading to Banner, Wyoming later this year. As always, she is focused on her deeply felt concerns for the earth, and future generations, while simultaneously continuing her exploration into the human issues of personal trancendence, self-discovery, healing, & renewal of the human heart. While she maintains her connections and aesthetic base in New York , Marsh with her need for solitude and love of wilderness, lives in a small New Mexico town, surrounded by the beauty of the American West.
Written by artist Stuart Arends, Willard, NM