Going national: Painter shows work in Chicago

Just four years after she started painting, Bremerton Artist Marnie Swenson’s work has been accepted into one of the most prestigious art shows in the United States.

Her introspective, imaginative art piece called Occupied Space was one of 128 accepted out of 1,200 total entries into the Cambridge Art Association National Prize Show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the most renowned and respected galleries in the world.

The winning pieces were picked by Robert Fitzpatrick, the director at the museum.

According to Swenson, 57, Fitzpatrick had to make judgements about what art was selected after only a glimpse.

More than 4,000 slides of work were flashed up on the screen, one after another.

“You get maybe two seconds, and if something catches him, than that slide is pulled,” she said. “Then when he weeds out the majority he spends more time viewing them.”

Swenson has been sending in her art to be accepted to numerous shows besides hanging her art in galleries in Bremerton’s downtown art district.

“I always have this feeling that I am going to make it in. If I find out I don’t then I just pout for a while and then get busy again. I’ll only spend a total of 24 hours doing that. Even when I feel (disappointed) I will make myself paint. When you work through it your work grows and you grow. You can’t help it.”

Swenson’s influences are Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Caravaggio. Swenson’s work focuses on people. Some are self portraits, striking in their conveyance of emotion through such body parts as the eyes or lines on the face. Some are of couples in symbolic poses and objects surrounding them.

One of particular interest that Swenson worked on for a month and a half sells for $2,200.

Not bad for an artist who called her first attempt at paining a “disaster.” She picked up the brush 15 years ago, but didn’t pick it back up until 12 years later because she was so frustrated with her early creation.

Last December, Swenson sent in a photographic slide of a painting to the St. Louis Artist’s Guild National juried exhibit.

Out of 667 paintings entered, she was one of 101 chosen.

When an artist is chosen for a national exhibit, art agents and collectors get a chance to view the work. It is another chance to gain exposure.

Swenson says painting is like meditation to her.

It calms her.

She never gets tired of it.

“What I am doing now is my dream,” she said. “I am doing my art. I hope someday someone will find all my work, someone will look at it and donate it to a museum. I’ll probably be one of those people that will be discovered a 100 years after they die. I will have left something of value.”

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