I recently lost a dear artist friend, Marlene Aron. Marlene passed away suddenly, a few days before her last art retrospective in San Francisco. Her death had a strong impact on so many people because Marlene led a life that sent out ripples of inspiration. I did not see Marlene often. We didn’t keep in active touch but she was a constant in my life. I always knew Marlene was creating art and involved in her creative communities. I would see notices of the Van Gogh lectures that Marlene gave at local libraries, and her art openings exhibiting her environmental installations and/or art canvases made of natural materials (dried leaves, stones, sand, twigs, soil, of various colors, shapes and sizes).

I first met Marlene when I worked at a school called the California Institute of Integral Studies where I founded a program called The Arts at CIIS. As curator I hosted many artist’s shows, and Marlene was one my favorites. She created an incredible installation with her signature materials that transformed the art space. Marlene was a joy to work with. She was meticulous, professional and absolutely delighted in sharing her work. As the years went by, we stayed in touch and when I created a performance about grief, When the Fall Comes, Marlene volunteered to create a natural installation on the stage for me to enhance the experience. It was once again a gift to collaborate with Marlene. I felt her love and care for me in the process. Then again in early 2017 I held an art auction to help fundraise for my current documentary film and Marlene donated one of her art pieces. At the fundraiser she represented the older generation of artists (she was in her mid 70s), still active and bringing so much expertise to share.

One of the things that struck me most about Marlene was how she lived and breathed art. I spent some time in her home when she was organizing an exhibit. Her small apartment in the Bernal Heights neighborhood was floor to ceiling art. Journals with poetry, paintings and art materials everywhere, but all placed with intention. Since she passed in mid-September she has been on my mind most days. Marlene was hit by a car a few blocks from her house. The accident happened in front of a coffee shop that I frequently drive by or visit while meeting friends to talk about life, art and more. I feel her absence; I am very sad to have lost Marlene as an anchor in the San Francisco arts community and in my life. 

Marlene always encouraged me. She was a mentor whether she knew it or not. She had so much integrity as an artist and her work is stunning and complex. And, she was kind, always championing me and my work. She believed in me and that is something we all need as we tenderly bring creative work out into the world. 

Visit Marlene’s website: www.marlenearonartistcom

See her current exhibit up through November 16th at The Reclaimed Room Gallery in San Francisco: www.reclaimedroom.com

Obituary about Marlene’s life and art was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle

Photo Credit: Tom Wishing