March 17, 2010

The life and art of John Marin

By BOB KEYES, Staff Writer

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This is where Marin made his way in the world.

Last week, Maglaras, Templeton and their crew, headed by photography director Phil Cormier, spent several hours on the causeway. They filmed Maglaras as he talked about Marin's attraction to Cape Split.

In the morning, all they could see was fog. The islands that Maglaras referred to in his script vanished under a blanket of dense, gray fog.

Later in the day, after lunch, the challenge was the sun and the wind. The latter filled Maglaras' shirt with air like a balloon and messed with his hair. The sun, which popped in and out of the clouds, kept Cormier and his crew scrambling. During one take, they needed lights. During another, they had to set up scrims to block the sun.

Very likely, those ever-changing conditions are what challenged Marin as well. Although he painted in his studio, he preferred being out in the open air. Late in life and beset by poor health, Marin still scrambled around the rocks at Cape Split in search of a different perspective.

Maglaras' goal with this movie is simple. He wants people to understand why this place meant so much to Marin, both from the artistic perspective and also for personal reasons. And he wants people to understand the man, to get to know the artist on a humanistic level.

Marin lived in two centuries and saw a wave of technology evolve in his lifetime. We have audio recordings of him talking, movies of him painting and copies of the letters that he wrote.

We also have the vast collection of art that he left behind. Marin completed some 4,000 paintings, drawings, etchings and other works. His artistic output has been parsed and analyzed time and again.

But what we don't have, Maglaras said, is a great sense of the man. With his film, he hopes to connect this place, which meant everything to Marin, to the man.

Over time, the two became one, he said.

"Marin was someone who enjoyed his life," Maglaras said. "He had problems with illness, and certainly from time to time he was depressed.

"But this was a man who enjoyed life, and who enjoyed the act of painting."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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