Profile: Marlene Wiedenbaum
By Raymond J. Steiner
ART TIMES Summer 2016
Soulful. More usually applied to the art of sound — music, especially — the word soulful, or profound — even spiritual — just barely describes the oeuvre of Marlene Wiedenbaum. Whether landscape, figurative, still life (or a combination of figure and landscape such as “Sisters”), her paintings not only project outward toward the viewer but also invite — nay, compel — the onlooker to enter its vibrant, nearly irresistible magnetism. No matter the medium — or motif — (and Marlene Wiedenbaum has an impressive background of both, including that of instructing in the arts) she captivates her viewers in a warm embrace of heavenly loving-kindness.
Amble down one of her wooded paths, and you know that you are heading home. In her “Artist Statement” she professes that she “feels obligated as an artist to reflect the world [she] lives in, to look keenly at [her] environment, and to present it to the viewer in an engaging way.” Would all of mankind reside in the world Marlene Wiedenbaum lives in! Would all of mankind look as keenly at the world as does she!
Would all of her viewers be so engaged!
Although I’ve written about Marlene’s work in the past (Nov/Dec 2010 Issue of ART TIMES), visiting her in her studio snugly embedded in her home surrounded by acres of fields, trees, hills — even a mountain off in the near distance — offered me insights into this “keen observer” of our world. First of all, Marlene Wiedenbaum is not some starry-eyed escapist who desires some kind of monkish isolation. She does firmly live in this world and does keenly observe her surroundings. Her studio walls display not only some of her work, but practical, everyday “to-do” lists that determinedly root her in the common work-a-day schedules with which we all must contend. And, of course, there is the cluttered ‘organization” of all the accoutrements of any artist’s studio surrounding her workplace at the easel.
In speech, she is soft-spoken, sincere, insightful, and critically aware of intent and of nonsense. In brief, she is also keenly aware of you. One is instantly alert to her mission of enlightenment. In my above-mentioned review of her work when exhibited at The Brunswick Art Studio & Gallery, I had noted her ability to “get past painting trees, hills, fields, clouds and mountain streams and ultimately penetrating Nature’s real beauty — namely her magic, her enigmas, her constant tricks of illusion and revelations that have enchanted and frustrated mankind since we first became ‘sapient’…” Let me add here that this includes not only her “keen” vision into Mother Nature’s secrets so evident in her plein-air landscapes, but also into all the illusions of existence we face every day. Clearly, I was taken by her genuine reverence for life, a reverence carried over to her personal life in the form of a new series of still lifes featuring fabric arts that pay homage to the work of her late mother.
Marlene Wiedenbaum is a no-nonsense crusader on her chosen mission: bringing depth of perception and love of existence as she so clearly sees it to each of her viewers. Viewers, therefore, ought not only “look into” her paintings, but also allow them to “look into” themselves as well.
Primarily a classical ‘realist’ — she qualifies this classification with the adjective “passionate” — working in the medium of soft pastel on sanded paper, Wiedenbaum credits her past forays into abstraction as the ultimate basis of her refinement of her now-chosen medium as well as her “sharpened understanding of … form as it manifests in the natural world.” There can be little argument here, since there are few artists today who match her skills and vision. In truth, she is one of the ever-shrinking number of serious artists who have not succumbed to the steady flood of soul-numbing gobbledygook that has so vitiated our culture, put out by modernist pundits that have obsessed and transformed the artworld into a commodity-driven ‘business’ that reveals a near-total ignorance of the difference between cost and value. Judging from the number of awards, accolades, and recognitions in the form of reviews, honors, and articles across a wide venue, obviously I am not alone in my judgments.
Visit Marlene at www.Wiedenbaum.com and make some of your own judgments.