Marion “Marn” Reich of Three Rivers, Calif., died of cancer Sunday, June 28, 2020, at Comfort Care, Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. She was 83.
Because of coronavirus and the no-visitor policy, friends and family had to depend on the medical staff to keep them informed. Marn Reich
We are grateful for the care they gave her. —Family and friends of Marn Reich
Born in the Bronx on March 12, 1937, raised in Detroit, Mich., Marion Reich did not think she was creative. Her father designed jewelry in his business, thus creativity was not completely foreign to her.
Paint by numbers was boring. Acrylics too flat so she added a papier-mâché face. This was her first taste of three-dimensional art.
At 30-something Marion took up needlepoint. She designed her own pieces — a view of Tomales Bay from her Synanon office window and a copy of Picasso’s Guernaca. Marn Reich
Marion moved to California to live in Synanon for the next 20 years and worked in the law department. Synanon attracted her because the community helped people overcome abuses. She felt useful. In her 40s, Marion, with a group of Synanon artists, hired an art teacher who projected scenes on the wall for students to copy.
When Marion left Synanon in her 50s, she changed her name to Marn, a shorter, snappier name, just like she was. She took an art appreciation class taught by Mona Selph, Three Rivers artist. In Mark Alstrand’s ceramics class Marn fell in love with clay.
“I teased Mr. Alstrand of being secretive,” she said. “He made the process of working in clay look easy.” It was not. But the more complicated, the better.
The final exam consisted of making a teapot; an object that is hollow, leak free, pours, and has a handle that stays attached. The assignment excited Marn. Marn Reich
Challenges are what keep you alive. —Marn Reich
Marn’s art education continued. She joined Marjorie Brandon’s collage workshop, took a welding class at the Mendocino Art Center, a clay mono print workshop in Petaluma, and many others. Clay is where she liked to play the most.
Richard Flores at College of the Sequoias, suggested Marn enter the Sofa Art Show. That was the first time it occurred to her that others might enjoy her creations. Marn participated in eight out of the thirteen years that the Sofa Art Show was presented at the Arts Visalia Gallery.
“I love the whimsy of the show and the challenge of including a sofa in whatever art form one used. The people who participate are so much fun.” Marn Reich
The Tulare County Fair and Visalia Art League have awarded Marn ribbons for her sculptures. The prestigious International Small Teapot Show included two pots. Marn was among the original people who founded the Arts Consortium, Tulare County’s answer to an art council.
Theater was Marn’s other passion, especially musicals. She was on the board of Visalia Community Players (Ice House Theater), hoping to influence the choice of plays. She had served on the Fourth Wall Board. It was around that time when she and Sherley Tucker joined forces. They shared a booth in Three Rivers many Novembers for the Senior League’s Holiday Bazaar arts and crafts show.
Sherley Tucker built a ceramic workshop; Marn helped and participated. Marn and others met weekly to build, shape, carve, throw, glaze, and fire: the taste of community that Marn dearly loved. When Sherley knew she was dying of cancer she offered the workshop to those who lived in Three Rivers. Marn helped organize the group thus Sherley Tucker’s legacy lives on at Flo Arts Studio. And Marn’s memory will be whispering in the ears of her clay buddies as the work continues into the future, since she was an invaluable teacher to all. Marn Reich
“When you don’t have much money but have a strong desire to contribute, being a docent for Arts Visalia is an avenue to be of service,” Marn explained. “Being a docent gives me time to study the artwork in depth. Scheduled monthly, I don’t miss a show.”
Marn’s home workshop participated in three of the eight times for the biannual Three Rivers Artist’s Studio Tour.
“I did not have to pack up all of my art to haul it, and not only do I get to share how I do the work itself, but others see my art collection as well. It’s a party, and I don’t have to leave home,” she said.
Marn is the beloved daughter of the late Ruth and Laurence Reich. She is survived by her sister Judith and Jerry Kroot; Aunt Gertrude Goldstein; the late Benjamin Goldstein; Aunt Blanche and Oscar Comras (deceased); Uncle Emile and Eleanor Reich (deceased); cousins Madelyn and Albert Katz; Joel Goldstein and Reed Goodman; Donald Comras and Al Husted; Wendy Reich and the late Lloyd Reich; and her nieces, nephews, great-niece, and great-nephew. Marn Reich
Weaving people into her inclusive community was a never-ending task, and that includes the Synanon family that stretches across the globe, clay friends, local theatre supporters, the quilting circle at Comfort for Kids, the art community, and more.
Marn is sorely missed.