Marion Gray | 1934 – 2016

Artist/Photographer Marion Gray was active in the vital Bay Area art scene since the 1970’s. In 1975 she completed her studies at the University of California at Berkeley in the Art History Department with Peter Selz, and in the Art Practice Department with Jim Melchert, Peter Voulkos, and Joan Brown.

Marion’s work took her from the West Coast to New York and Europe, and covers a wide spectrum of artists. Her lifetime’s work created an expansive archive, always questioning and extending the possibilities of visual documentation as an art form.

Marion had just completed her two degrees at UC Berkeley in 1975 when the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude came to the university to lecture on their upcoming project for Marin and Sonoma counties, the “Running Fence.” In the fall of 1976 she hired on to work with the Christos. The project proved to be the beginning of a career for Gray working with artists of all practices creating imagery using both still and moving cameras.

Marion created a unique, 40-year archive of work. Works include photographing one-time conceptual performances with John Cage or Tom Marioni (her documentation is the only record of the piece); working with women’s groups like the Guerrilla Girls or Motion; dance ensembles including Nancy Karp and Della Davidson; musicians Paul Dresher, Meredith Monk (with sculptor Ann Hamilton); composer Alvin Curran; theater groups such as George Coates; and other projects in both the United States and Europe.

She published in numerous magazines and books including Art in America, Art Forum, Leonardo Music Journal, High Performance, Art in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945 to 1980, and Woman in Technology 2003, and exhibited in group and solo shows. Selected exhibits include the San Francisco Art Institute “Marion Gray/Photographs of Actual Art”, the Performing Arts Library and Museum, “In Performance — Tapestry” and “SF/SF” (San Francisco/Science Fiction) an exhibit at the SF Arts Commission and the Clock Tower in NYC. In 2005, she showed in the Czech Republic, at the Palffyho Palace, Jazzova Sekce Gallery. The exhibit “Resounding Works” used photography, video, and sound.

Marion also taught workshops using collage techniques to illustrate the elements of design, the values and power of color, the importance of texture, scale and presentation inherent in all works of art. Using photo imagery, various materials like tape. string, wire, found objects, paper, fabric etc. and by showing examples of artists work – Picasso, Jess, Betty Saar, Romare Bearden, Joseph Cornell, Kara Walker, to name a few, and the latest digital and musical collagists – the “cut and glue to a flat surface” process took on a whole new life.

Marion’s collective work presents a unique and multifaceted vision – a very personal portrait of the remarkable individuals and events that have defined the Bay Area art world and beyond.