Work by local sculptor and longtime arts supporter Leo Marcus is currently on view at the Harlow Gallery, all through this summer and leading up to a full retrospective of Marcus’s work in April of 2007. The sculptor was a long-time member of the Kennebec Valley Art Association, and a dedicated supporter of the arts in and around Augusta. Marcus was instrumental in starting and revitalizing the annual Mile of Art, which is still held in Augusta on the grounds of UMA each August. In addition, he organized the art shows in the first floor corridor at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta for many years. He volunteered in local schools, sharing his knowledge and introducing children to the art of sculpting.
Dr. Marcus was a sculptor who worked in many mediums, and produced an enormous body of work. He has a collection of pieces at Maine General Medical Center in Augusta. There is also a piece dedicated to his deceased wife, Claire, on permanent display outside Jewett Hall at UMA. Six of Marcus’s sculptures are currently on display in the window gallery at the Harlow, with three more on display in the gallery proper in conjunction with “Showers and Flowers” a photography exhibition being presented by the Capital Area Camera Club. Marcus was actively working with gallery staff in planning for this exhibition before his death on May 22nd, 2006. The window gallery exhibition will continue through 2006, with new work being displayed each month.
Notes from a conversation with Leo Marcus, 5-3-2006 – by Penny Markley
Leo was still in dentistry when he started sculpting, 11 years before retirement. He never had formal training in art until he retired and moved to Whitefield after which he took some classes at UMA. When asked what made him start, he answered that it was an interest in something that didn’t talk back. “I could spend hours doing it and completely lose a sense of time”. Leo said he started with wood and that there are two basic forms of sculpting: removal and addition. He has used both. His work can be representational or nonrepresentational.
He started using stone when he moved to Maine. When asked how he shaped stone he answered, “With difficulty.” He used power tools, electric chisels, steel discs impregnated with hard substances such as carborundum.
He took art classes at UMA including a welding class taught by Bob Katz. Leo said he learned a lot from him. He particularly enjoyed the younger students in the class who drifted to him for advice and information.
When asked where he got his ideas he said, “Keep your eyes and ears open and things come to you. Things come to you from outside and things come to you during the night as a nightmare.” When asked about the many different materials he has used he said, “When you become proficient in what you are doing its time to do something else.” When asked what his favorite material to work with was, he answered, “Usually the one I worked on last.” One of his latest materials was plastic counter material, whose trade name is Corian. He would get the sections discarded when space for a sink is cut out from woodworkers he knew. He said that he loved working with materials that he could pick up for nothing. For the last few years he had to modify his sculpting because of vision loss. He got his son and his grandchildren involved to help him.
Leo completed close to 1000 pieces of sculpture. When asked why he did not sell his work, he replied, “No need to.” He donated pieces to Maine General Hospital and to the University of Maine at Augusta. When asked what would become of his work eventually, he said that it would be divided among his three children. Leo Marcus died at his home in Whitefield May 22, 2006).