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About Mary Anne

Baltimore City - Station North A&E District

Mary Anne Arntzen's picture
  Mary Anne Arntzen was born in Riverside, California and currently lives in Baltimore, MD. In 2004 she earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts in painting from Boston University, and in 2010 earned a Masters of Fine Arts from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. In 2013 she mounted a solo exhibition with ICA Baltimore. Her work has been shown in California, New England and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. She has completed residencies at the Wassaic Project, Vermont... more


Making a painting is solving a self-generated problem. I start out with a couple forms in mind, or a pattern, that morphs into another shape. From there, it’s kind of a puzzle to find out what the particular problem of the painting is. Once I’ve figured out what the problem is, then I can solve the problem and that’s the fun and the challenge.
I am trying to make shapes feel like objects even if they are not things you can name. They behave according to how light and shadow behaves in the world. There might be a kind of an interplay between the shapes that makes it feel physical. A little bit of spatial ambiguity is something I’m interested in in the painting; this simple relationship of is this thing on top of that thing, or this thing is framing that or how it can be on top in one place and in the back somewhere else. I try to achieve these spatial goals through thinking about how the objects behave according to light and shadow, and I like how a little mark can become a dimensional edge instead of a flatness, which then changes the way the thing behind it is behaving.

Small Paintings, 2016-2018

There’s a different language with my smaller paintings than the larger ones. The smaller ones are more concise--they’re one or two ideas. The little ones are nice because I do like to work on them in a focused way for a while, maybe one to three sittings and the bigger ones are a couple of weeks of focus.

Squares and Nearly Squares

A selection of work created in 2014. In this series I am interested in frames, color, and contrast between flat abstraction and suggestions of illusionistic space.

See Through

This body of work continues to push a play of space and color through literal mark making and mundane, patterned materials. My paintings frame subjects that are often about looking and looking through a surface.
Studying the industrial character of my city, my work often starts from the visual obstructions found in my neighborhood--latticed garden fencing, windowpanes, and decorative cinderblocks. My paintings, like these structures, are made of intertwined bands, diagonal ties crossing, creating surfaces perforated by geometric absences. These forms provide an open system for exploring linear marks, which function as barriers while opening up portholes into areas of color and atmosphere beyond. The patterns in my paintings shift across the surface and between paintings, slowly changing as they accumulate. I use those forms as starting points, distilled into games with color, line and abstract form.

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Mary Anne's Curated Collection

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