Grown Locally: Local artist’s work featured in Louisiana State exhibit. 

January 11, 2022

Forever Your Gator Girl by Marie Marfia

Grown Locally: Local artist’s work featured in Louisiana State exhibit. 

Grown Locally is presented by House of Flavors Restaurant of Ludington and features locally owned businesses and locally produced products.

By Kate Krieger-Watkins, MCP correspondant. 

HAMLIN TOWNSHIP – With her form of humor and creativity, artist, Marie Marfia entered the pop-surrealist/lowbrow movement, Surreal Salon 14 exhibition put on by Louisiana State University of the Baton Rouge Gallery. Marfia, who is known for her pop-art, mostly of skeleton pastel pictures, entered the competition to see if one of her pieces would be accepted.

Marfia said she decided to enter the competition and she received news that one of her pieces was selected to be on display at the event.

“I answered a call to artists and submitted three skeleton art pieces for consideration,” she said. “Forever Your Gator Girl” was chosen by their juror, Carrie Ann Baade. 

Marie Marfia

Her favorite medium is soft pastel on sanded paper, but she also likes to use acrylics, she said. She typically paints people, landscapes, and skeletons! Over many years she has been doing just that with her skeleton pieces as a way to express humor and her own creativity.

“I’m still kind of new to the idea myself, even after painting skeletons for the last 10 years,” she said. “For me it’s about humor and craft and poking fun at the idea that there can only ever be one kind of fine art in this world. I believe art is for everybody and anybody can make it. Pop surrealism is about creating pieces that say something about current or past events in a sly, funny or twisted way. For instance, I use skeletons in my ‘Old (Dead) Masters’ series because it’s a great way to study the art works of the past while also being mindful that nothing lasts forever.”

While working on a completely different piece, Marfia said she sort of fell into drawing skeletons.

“I was doing a series of 100 belly dancer drawings, trying to master soft pastels as a medium while painting something I enjoyed,” she said. “Around about the 15th one, I was losing steam on the project and someone suggested I try painting a belly dancer the way Salvador Dali would do it. So I made five skeleton belly dancer on the beach paintings. A couple of those sold, so naturally I did more. Someone offered me a show featuring skeletons and I had fun with that. Eventually I had done over 60 skeleton paintings and really, I don’t have any plans to stop. They make me laugh, they’re fun to do and that’s good enough for me.”

“Forever Your Gator Girl”, the piece that was accepted into the competition, came about from Marfia’s time living in Florida for 10 years and her fears of the unknown creatures that were common in the Florida wildlife and also in one’s own backyard at times.

“The wild part of Florida can be both beautiful and terrifying,” she said. “The first year we lived there I was practically a prisoner in my house because I was so afraid of what might happen to me if I ever ventured out. All I knew about Florida back then was that it was crawling with venomous snakes, scary reptiles and giant spiders. Well, you can’t stay inside forever, and eventually I discovered multiple nature preserves in the Jacksonville area. I would walk in those places nearly every day and really came to appreciate the beauty around me. I never was eaten by alligators or bitten by snakes or spiders in the entire 10 years we lived in Florida. My little pink cowgirl skeleton riding on an alligator is symbolic of conquering my fears about living there. And it’s also a shout-out to a state that placed so much emphasis on sports. Everyone seemed to be flying Gators or Seminoles or Jaguars flags on their giant trucks there. Amazing.”

Marfia’s artwork can be seen from time to time at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts or on her website. She also sells pieces around Mason 

“I participate in member shows at LACA as often as I can,” she said. “I have two pieces in the current humanities portrait show there. I recently sold three pieces in an online show with Gristle Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. I sell cards, prints and originals at Ludington Area Center for the Arts and at Art On the Town gallery in Pentwater. You can buy cards and prints at 4 Directions Alchemy on Dowland St. in Ludington or various items printed with my artwork by going to my website and click on the links to online stores.”

Though the exhibition was supposed to be celebrated the night of January 22, due to COVID, the event has been canceled, but Marfia is still waiting to see if a virtual event will happen when they announce the winners of the show.

“They usually announce winners during the soiree, but this year because of COVID, it’s not happening in person, but I expect to hear then whether I win anything or not,” Marfia said. “Honestly, there are so many great pieces in this show it really is an honor to be included.”

The official website states, “Surreal Salon, the annual exhibition that celebrates the pop-surrealist/lowbrow movement returns to Baton Rouge Gallery (BRG) for its 14th year in 2022 (January 4 – 27). The exhibition, held in partnership with the LSU School of Art, will share the work of more than 50 artists from 18 states and five different countries, each hand-picked by Special Guest Juror Carrie Ann Baade. Surreal Salon has featured paintings, photography, ceramics, textiles, mixed media works, and more. Artists from all corners of the United States and more than a half dozen different nations have been featured in previous exhibitions and with Surreal Salon 14, a new group of artists joins them. Surreal Salon 14 will feature the work of more than 50 artists representing 18 states as well as Ireland, Canada, Australia, and France. More than $2,000 in cash prizes will be awarded in conjunction with the exhibition and the artist whose work is selected as best in show will also profiled in an online editorial by Juxtapoz Magazine.”

Grown Locally is presented by House of Flavors Restaurant, 402 W. Ludington Ave., owned locally by the Neal family for over 70 years; 231.845.5785; Facebook. Now offering free dine-in ice cream with any meal after 11 a.m. through April 30, 2022. 

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