Heart of Ardor, Paintings by Daniel Marlin

Amazon Review for 'Heart of Ardor'

Daniel Marlin was a self-taught artist and author, committed to themes of Nature, domestic harmony, the Jewish archetypes of humanity and compassion, anti-nuclear advocacy, and justice for the disenfranchised. His art-work bears some resemblance to the Impressionists, in particular Cezanne and Van Gogh regarding their use of color. His writing has a comparable rich and immediate brilliance.

Born into a fairly well to do Jewish household—his father was a labor union negotiator for the City of New York—he was more affected in terms of his world sensibility by his mother, who died of cancer when Marlin was fifteen. This trauma and his nearly lifelong conflict with a well-meaning but materialistic single parent contributed to his abandoning the major tenets of American avarice. His models were more in the artistic and religious pantheons, in particular Kenneth Patchen, the mystical poet who though much admired lived his latter years in pain and died relatively early. Marlin met and spoke with Patchen and his wife Miriam while in college at the University of California, Berkeley. He met Miriam again in 1985 in Willits, California

According to various sociological and biographical studies, the phenomenon of artistic commitment seems frequently generated by a tragic life experience in childhood, namely losing a parent or close sibling. This happened in the lives of Kerouac, Chaplin, Tolstoy, and before them Michelangelo, Raphael, J.S. Bach, Wagner, and the unheralded true author of the Shakespeare canon, Edward de Vere. Nobel Prize laureates in literature have been recorded as eight times more likely to have suffered traumatic childhood loss than laureates who distinguished themselves in other fields.

From the 1963 decision to leave college, Marlin made a simultaneous decision to pursue art as his life work, first in literature and increasingly in pictorial art. Neither field met with commercial renown for decades. However, his memorial in October, 2017 was attended at a standing room only crowd of intellectuals and artists from two generations in Berkeley culture. He had participated in several writings groups, influencing many contemporary and younger writers. The grandson of the great Yiddish poet Malka Tussman represented his family's gratitude and admiration for Marlin's Yiddish works and translations.

When in the 1980's KQED-TV reproduced one of his drawings in its annual calendar, his father apparently rejoiced that his elder son had not been a failure. Their relations were further ameliorated by a series Marlin completed on major biblical themes of redemption. These were paintings of very great beauty, published in the medium of greeting cards. They are included in 'Heart of Ardor', along with others works of Nature, travel, and urban experience. In time his water colors and other artistic specialties were marketed and purchased with agreeable frequency. One was purchased by Jerry Garcia, himself a devoted water colorist as well as world-famous musician. Marlin reported the purchase to me as by "someone in the Grateful Dead".

He married twice, in both cases to refined educated women who fully supported his art and fervent political conviction against war and weaponry in all their forms. In a sense, he and they were ahead of their time, a turbulent and violent one in modern history. His younger brother, like Theo with Vincent Van Gogh, was also sympathetic and supportive of the idiosyncratic vegetarian, non-violent, individualist. His morality was consistent and therefore difficult. He never drove a car. Traveling the world he found there fellowship with all humanity rather than with any single nation or nationality. His second wife, Toshiko Watanabe, who is Japanese, accompanied him on pilgrimages in Japan, traditional odysseys for artists and religious practitioners in that country. She was deeply involved in the production of his last books, 'Heart of Ardor' and 'Amagasaki Sketchbook'.

Marlin died August 7, 2017 from the destructive effects of several incursions of cancer, all of which but the last, a hereditary kidney disease, he had endured and survived. His last reading in June, 2017 was from a wheelchair and an emaciated skeleton.

— W. J. Ray

What is Poetry

Introduction / Gallery / Heart of Ardor / Rabbit Series / Obituaries / Nobel Prize