Whatever it is that pulls the pin, that hurls you past the boundaries of your own life into a brief and total beauty, even for a moment, it is enough.
JEANETTE WINTERSON, Gut Symmetries
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
American visual artist Marshall Carbee took a close look at his own environmental footprint as a working artist, and the result was not pretty. Paints that touted low or “no VOC” were simply petroleum products with often toxic properties. He set out to find and create products that were truly sustainable, outperformed the old ways and were either cheaper or cost-neutral. In 2008 Carbee deveolped the first bio-based, sustainable gesso, Carbee Soy Gesso. In his work as a scenic artist for films (he was the sole scenic artist on Julian Schnabel’s “Basquiat”), he found a crying need for healthier, truly sustainable paints and sealants. He collaborated with Eco Safety Products to develop the first bio-based industrial scenic art coatings. These products are superior in performance and significantly reduce the petroleum content of motion picture production. Carbee promotes responsible production in the arts - in painting, motion picture production, museums and schools. He works with socially aware organizations, contributing his own works of art to raise money for these causes. Marshall Carbee has exhibited his paintings, mechanical sculpture and works on paper in one-man shows in cities around the world, including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Caracas and Tokyo. In May of 2004 over 150 of Carbee's works were displayed in a one -man show at Tufts University. A prolific and gifted artist, Carbee's work hangs in galleries and private collections in Europe and North and South America. He was twice nominated to Esquire's prestigious annual register of Americans Under Forty, a list of young people who have made significant contributions in their fields.Born in Manchester, New Hampshire, Carbee graduated from University of New Hampshire, where he participated in the school's first fine arts program. His studies there resulted in the formulation of his own curricular innovation, a degree awarded in the discipline of drawing. Shortly after graduating, he illustrated a children's book, The Magic Board, which was a gift from his alma mater to the regional public school system. In conjunction with the Portsmouth Community Action Program, he also founded an art school for underprivileged children.In the 1980's, Carbee co-founded the Pine Family, Inc. with Pine Ohashi, a production company that worked extensively with NHK, the Japanese public broadcasting network to produce documentaries focusing on international economic and environmental concerns and ongoing status of U.S.-Japan relations.A succession of multimedia projects led Carbee to participate in music videos and movies, and his work can be seen in films by Robert Altman, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Al Pacino, Julian Schnabel, Richard Donner, and Ang Lee, among others. His film credits include Men in Black, Eraser, Donnie Brasco, Conspiracy Theory, The Ice Storm, and Basquiat.Carbee worked on several television projects in New York including Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, Sesame Street, Regis and Kathy Lee, All My Children, and One Life to Live. Among his television credits, Carbee's work provided the prototypes for the original Mutant Toyland of Pee Wee's Playhouse. His production design for the music video of Michael Jackson's Grammy Award-winning single "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" features Carbee's miniature set design and original animation. He has created artwork for special events and industrial shows for such recording artists as Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Joe Cocker, Cheap Trick, Meatloaf, Earth Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, and the Rolling Stones.Resident in Los Angeles, New York and Rye Beach, New Hampshire; on his beach property stand four cement blocks, the last remains of Marconi's antenna tower for the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic. In 1996, Carbee turned his hand to filmmaking. He wrote, produced, and directed the short film I'll Be Yours Forever, for which he was honored with a nomination for the Discovery Award, presented by the New Hampshire Humanities Council to an artist working in a new medium. In 2004, Carbee's bio-crystalline art installation, "Minor to Major, DC", created on September 7, 2001 for the White House in Washington, DC, became part of the private art collection of Mrs.Laura Bush. On September 7, 2001, four days before the attacks, Carbee photographed major league baseball bases filled with Herkimer diamonds placed around the White House. Included in the piece is a sculpture of a white marble "First Base", images of the four bases surrounding the White House, and a nameless street map of the neighborhood. Resident in Los Angeles, CA and Rye Beach, New Hampshire; on his beach property stand four cement blocks, the last remains of Marconi's antenna tower for the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic.
What people are saying:
Hypnotic expanses of color, otherworldly illustrations, sculptural objects that defy classification. Carbee's vision displays a Mediterranean sensuality together with a quirky sensibility. The New-England-born artist's transatlantic education and individualistic irreverence results in a body of work that is irresistibly engaging. Embracing both figurative and abstract, collage and sculptural, examples of work on display include objects as diverse as handcrafted jewelry, a paper placemat created for Burger King, and paintings made in the ocean surf. With an artistic lineage that can be traced back to Surrealism, Carbee's work resists classification, inhabiting a unique space that alchemizes the familiar into the visionary and fantastic.
-Frederick Kalil, curator, Pardon My French: The Art of Marshall Carbee, Tufts University
Marshall's black line seems to go awry here, aright there, always flowing - through starts and stops - in inky insights. It oozes through oceans and landscapes of strife, love, conflict, action, stillness and hilarity. Is that a friendly bunny with funny eyes? Then why does it have a gun pointing at me in its paw? Marshall's mind connects to a visual treasure trove, reconnoiters from Rohrshrach blots to classical art through the collapse of civilization. And yet somehow finds transcendence in a giggle. - John Grady
Nothing escapes Marshall’s artistic snare. I mean nothing, including human encounters, which arguably mark his greatest creations with “the otherness” in life. To be fortunate enough to encounter Carbee is to grasp that there is no such thing as separation. Life is all one experience. Carbee’s shifts in his work are the mark of a genius artist who restlessly responds to the changing world around him. Nothing is static, and yet change is a constant. His storm paintings are not only eco-friendly but actively engage nature’s forces. His new earth-based works provoke the viewer to connect with the elemental, while delivering the shock of our constructed separation from nature. Carbee’s work speaks to some of the most important issues of our time. Carbee is a responsible painter; he has developed his own sustainable oil painting process. He developed the first sustainable soy-based gesso in 2008. He makes his own plant-based paints with earth pigments, uses organic oils, organic cotton/hemp canvas, rain water, ocean water. This physical manifestation of his constructive dialogue between the artist and his workplace has a profound effect on people; it functions on many different levels. Carbee says, “People think they are looking at my paintings, but my paintings are looking at them.” His work is an educational opportunity for those who perceive it and understand it. - Hazel Oakley
The trajectory of Marshall Carbee’s artistic arc seems at first glance to have been a process of searching, but as it becomes realized, the inevitability and trueness of its aim becomes clear in hindsight. His early works were tremendously detailed, work intensive, informed by surrealism, with sense of wonder combined with technical excellence that permitted him to create worlds and inhabit them exclusively. An enhanced focus on media would influence the last ten years of his work in a way that nobody predicted. Carbee’s heartbreak at witnessing the gradual destruction of the environment that he respects and loves, both as subject matter and as a native New Englander caused him, both as a power of example and as a practical matter of personal responsibility, to seek out materials and processes that would have as little environmental impact as possible. His work began to rely on organic cotton/ hemp canvasses, a soy-based gesso he developed, low impact earth pigments, organic oils from petroleum-free sources, frames from naturally downed wood, reject rags from a local custom dye house and even workspace environments whose carbon footprints were as small as they could possibly be. He abandoned his studio and works outdoors. Carbee’s most recent step in handing his visual aesthetic over to nature has been to allow nature to do the painting, and for him to merely manage the process. If art is collaboration between man and nature, then less involved man is in that process, the more magnificent the result. Carbee’s weathered art is a reflection of that concept. The earth, wind and the water are the forces that move the paint around on his canvasses. The artist’s hand merely guides the infinite subtleties of a summer shower and the wind’s infinitely shifting vectors. - Chris Elliott