with a touch of glass
Marna Auclair spent countless hours of her Southwest
Washington youth scraping hulls, painting pilot houses and washing
decks. Her grandmother was known as Tugboat Annie and her father
-- a tugboat and ferryboat captain for more than 65 years -- owned
the oldest independent ferry system in the nation, plus a marina
and marine railway in Port Orchard. She often accompanied her
father on tows -- sometimes taking over at the wheel. Though Marna
doesn't come from a family of artists, she's produced a pair --
both daughter and son indulge. Marna and her husband live in Ridgefield,
Raven No. 2"
Summer better than others
Marna Auclair's art goes through phases, and her latest is the
result of a long-ago trip.
"In my late teens I spent a summer in Alaska
with my dad, scouting long houses and fishing villages,"
she said. "The art was beautiful. What I do is contemporary
and a little dark, and probably off the mark -- but then, so is
the history of the Northwest Indian culture."
After several art-history classes and some independent
studies of artists, Marna has a broad appreciation for art in
"There isn't any one artist that has influenced
my work to a great degree," she said. "However, the
Pacific Northwest has an amazing number of very fine artists."
Some favorites include: Amy Burnett, Marshall Johnson and Jerry
Stitt (painters), David Schwarz (glass), Beth Kohler (bronze),
Steve Sauer (pottery) and Patrick Gracewood (sculptor).
Four of her paintings were at the LaCenter Art Festival
Last month Marna showed two paintings at the Vancouver,
Wash., Barnes & Noble, where she's scheduled for a one-woman
show in November. She'll show about 15 pieces.
"I did oils for many years but find acrylic
more workable," she said. "It's nice to scrape my canvas
clean with oils, but acrylics are fast, clear and bright."
Raven No. 1"
"I'm not sure why I was initially interested in art,"
she said. "I just always loved to draw and paint. We had
good books and art in our home. But out of four girls, I'm the
only one even the slightest bit interested in art."
So, at age 11, after protesting the requisite tap,
ballet, gymnastics, piano and clarinet lessons, Marna asked her
mother for art classes.
"I don't think in the 1950s we were too belligerent
about what we wanted," she said. "But in mother's good
wisdom, she found a private art teacher, Ms. Marry, a French lady
with exquisite talent. Mother drove me 30 miles, two days a week,
to learn the principles of fine art."
Her art education continued at South Kitsap High
in Port Orchard and Olympic College in Bremerton, Wash. After
two years of college, she spent six months in Los Angeles with
"Returning to Washington, I married, went to
work to put my husband through college and had my daughter,"
she said. "I didn't paint a lot during this time, but continued
to show and sell and did a few commissioned pieces. I've picked
up classes along the way and plan on taking fall classes in design,
pottery, life drawing and watercolor at Washington State."
Marna's husband's involvement in the Three Mile Island cleanup
brought her to Pennsylvania in the 1980s.
She learned to appreciate the stained glass prevalent
in old churches and buildings.
"I took classes from a major glass artist in
Harrisburg, Pa., and truly found my niche," she said. "Ever
since, I've been busy creating art glass for many homes in Puget
Sound and Clark County. Glass is much more time consuming than
painting," she said, "but I enjoy it just as much. No
two pieces of glass are ever the same and I always work from my
own original designs."
Marna's stained glass is shown continually at the
Sidney Gallery in Puget Sound, where she also had a one-woman
Art for the masses
Marna is also in her fourth year as president of the Ridgefield
Art Association -- and extremely proud of what they've accomplished.
"We started in 1991 with amateur artists and
now have 98 percent professionals showing," she said. "Every
year gets better. This year we had 42 artists showing 400 pieces
in metal and wood sculpture, glass art and photography.
"We also set aside space for Ridgefield High
students to display their work. This is very important to us,
since we give a scholarship to a graduating senior each year.
As an art association, this is one of our main focuses."
Marna, deciding to concentrate on art full time,
recently quit her bank job and is now involved in several community
public art projects.
Gene Ellis and I spearheaded an effort to bring new murals
to Ridgefield," she said. "The project involved third-year
art students at Ridgefield High. The murals were the seniors'
board projects, which are required in order to graduate.
"As mentor to four students, I was required
to supervise the project from start to finish. It was a treat."
Marna also spent the last six months working with
Portland sculptor Patrick Gracewood on a piece of public art provided
by a grant from the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington.
Its unveiling is scheduled for October.
"Obviously, art is a huge part of my life,"
Marna said. "It defines who I am, adds dimension to my life
and truly makes me content.