Mobilians are reeling from the sudden deaths of two more members of the city’s arts community in the past week. Visual artist and writer Fred Marchman died April 18, while actor and writer Danielle Juzan followed five days later.
A Mobile native, Marchman earned a BFA in painting, sculpture and printmaking from the University of Alabama in 1963 and another degree in sculpture and Oriental art from Tulane in 1965. Afterward, he journeyed to Ecuador with the Peace Corps and taught art at Universidad Central School of Fine Arts in Quito.
Simultaneously, Marchman began to publish his poetry while still in South America. His website bio credits him with establishing the Nail Press in San Francisco in 1968 before it relocated to New Mexico in 1973. Marchman created his first fictional identity for the publication of “Dr. Jo-Mo’s Handy Holy Home Remedy Remedial Reader.”
Marchman continued to publish short fiction and poetry through the years, most recently “Word in Space and Duets with Erato” and “Portals in Paradise.” He also published for decades with the now-defunct alternative newspaper The Harbinger, which included both cartoons and writing.
After returning to his hometown in the 1970s, Marchman became known for his wildly imaginative visual work in a variety of mediums. Metal, ceramic, limestone, wood, paint, paper, bronze, computer art — nothing was beyond his prolific reach.
His subject matter often orbited television, cosmic themes, kudzu, the Confederacy, flowers, Southern belles, machinery and the human form. His style was unique, bearing eclectic influences. Take a bit of abstract expressionism, stir in some outsider art sensibilities and a few scoops of Southern pop art.
His creativity was ceaseless and impressive, his production an autonomic function with art the natural byproduct of his existence. Noted Mobile sculptor Casey Downing was such a big fan he once provided Marchman with downtown studio space.
Marchman taught art at the Alabama School of Math and Science from 1992 to 1995. He did the same at Faulkner State Community College in Fairhope.
His ubiquitous presence was so lengthy it often surprised me to run into locals who didn’t know his work or name. Marchman created a popular local billboard in 1995, a bas-relief at Nasser Gymnastics and worked on an Easter egg project for the White House in 1988 and 1989. His work appeared at the Huntsville Museum of Art and the Birmingham Museum of Art and is in the permanent collection at the Mobile Museum of Art. He has been exhibited in galleries around the region and nation, including one-man shows at MMoA and the Eastern Shore Art Center.
While Marchman’s demise was saddening it wasn’t entirely surprising, since he celebrated his 75th birthday on April 9. At 20 years his junior, Juzan’s death from an unprecedented cardiac event in the early hours of April 24 was far more shocking.
A Metairie, Louisiana, native who met her husband at LSU, the couple moved to Mobile in the early 1990s. Juzan threw herself into local theater, appearing in nearly 30 stage productions. Her big splash came in the 2001 Mobile Theatre Guild rendition of “Wit” wherein she played a cancer patient, shaved head and all. She described the performance as cathartic because of her father’s death from cancer near the same time.
More recently Juzan was in Joe Jefferson Playhouse’s 2011 version of “The Lion in Winter” as Eleanor of Aquitaine. She had a one-woman show as author Emily Dickinson in 2014’s “The Belle of Amherst.”
Juzan was in rehearsal for Theatre 98’s version of “The Glass Menagerie” set to premiere May 6. Director Jon Robitaille said he is scrambling to ready a replacement and that the possibility of delaying the opening remains. He called her a “brilliant and professional actress.”
Juzan’s writing was deeply imbued, having begun the habit as a girl. It melded with her theatrical love and provided an outlet for her wickedly sharp and intelligent sense of humor.
Juzan specialized in satire with “The Bunny Comes to Jackson’s Ferry” in 2007, “Artbruted” in 2009, a trio of comedies including 2012’s “Meet the Candidates” and 2013’s “Up the Creek” which served as fundraisers for the Crescent Theater, a 2014 musical “The Great Historical Christmas of 1977” and others.
In the last five years, she wrote a regular column for the arts and culture website Mod Mobilian. Her regular blog, A Rich Interior Life, was a finalist for Favorite Local Blog in the 2015 Nappie Awards.
Juzan was also on the program for a June 9 literary event at MMoA. Her absence will leave a massive hole in both artistic and civic life in Mobile, as she was an omnipresent force in several arenas, fully supporting most any cultural endeavor.
Social media has overflowed with testament to her wit, heartfelt kindness, community involvement and prodigious talent. Mobile’s theater community is particularly stunned.
Juzan leaves behind her husband, Allen Perkins, son Henry and daughter Lucy.
In the 13 years this writer has covered arts in Mobile, I’ve seen obits and untimely deaths. I’ve never seen one generate the breadth of shock this has and it is testimony to the impact Juzan had on her world.
While readying this piece, I revisited a 2009 Artifice column on Juzan wherein she discussed the inspiration for “Artbruted” — the untimely death of gallery owner William Chesser. Appropriately and ironically, it ended with the following passage:
“The business about the ‘unquenchable spirit of the art community’ is a great epitaph for William,” [Juzan] said, “because that’s really the truth isn’t it. We endure.”
Last Science Café looks at lying
For some of us, fibbing comes as second nature. Some can conjure a story on the spot, possibly convince themselves it’s real, maybe even beat a lie detector. Yet for others it’s a struggle.
With advancements in neuroscience and new capabilities for looking into the functioning brain, we can pry into prevarication better than ever before. On Tuesday, May 3, at 6 p.m., University of South Alabama Professor of Psychology Dr. Jack Tremblay will lead a Science Café through the intricacies of untruthfulness at the OK Bicycle Shop (661 Dauphin St.). This event, entitled “The Lying Brain: What Cognitive Neuroscience Can Tell Us About Lying, Malingering, and Cheating,” is the last Science Café of the semester.
The USA Archaeology Museum sponsors Science Cafés.
Exploreum hosts early May Spark Talks
The lens of actual science will be trained on the work of George Lucas come Star Wars Day at the Gulf Coast Exploreum (65 Government St.). May 4 — “May the fourth be with you” — is when the science center presents “The Science of Star Wars — From Possible to Factual” led by USA physics instructor Dr. Albert Gapud. The 6 p.m. event will look at what actual science is and is not present in the legendary film series, which is approaching its 40th anniversary in 2017.
A screening of the film “Episode IV: A New Hope” will follow.
Entrance is $6.
The next night, May 5, features a presentation entitled “Da Vinci: Artist Superstar” featuring MMoA Curator Paul W. Richelson. He will discuss aspects of the career of Leonardo da Vinci, how he achieved fame within his own life and how that has translated to an even larger legend today that might overlook his earliest achievements.
For more information on these events, phone 251-208-6893 or go to exploreum.com.