Marianne Devine

By Emma Mendelson


“Art” Is generally considered to exist outside of the world of the
functional; for fear that it becomes “craft”. But this is not a universal
sentiment. Anthropologists, among many, have been challenging this
euro-centric view of art so that it can include objects like tapestries
and pottery created outside the West in its definition of “Art”.

Marianne Devine believes the same. While a painter, she has most
recently been seen working the Brooklyn flea market circuit. She,
and roommate Tae Barbalace, under the collective name of “Night
Owls”, have been representing themselves at various flea markets in
locations like Fort Green and Bushwick at least once a week for the
past few months. The flea markets have allowed her to merge her
artistic sensibilities with an almost natural ability to re-furbish and
up-sell found and used merchandise. One of her signature items are
drawers she finds in her neighborhood. She collects the drawers,
paints them, adds extra knobs and other drawer pulls, then sells them
as jewelry or scarf displays. As she would say, functional pieces of art.

But this is her most recent artistic venture. As mentioned before,
she started as a fine arts major in college and had been trained
in the skills and methods of painting. When Marianne started at
Cazenovia College in upstate New York, she was a “big fish in a really
small pond”. Following her Associates Degree from the college, she
transferred to Rochester Institute of Technology, studying sculpture
as well as painting. After realizing that the school was not the best
place to be for an artist, she quickly decided she needed to be where
the art was: New York City. That led Marianne to Pratt Institute,
where she found herself in a really big pond “surrounded by beautiful
fishes”. Luckily, she did not shy away from the challenge and she says
this helped her art reach new levels.

It was also here that she developed her artistic style, one that features
a strong focus on painting her nieces and nephews. Originally,
Marianne was going to paint seniors and her nephews. However,
since she doesn’t have any present older people in her life, her
nephews became the muses. She is attracted to the sadness that
exists in a child’s face, a sadness that often becomes ignored in the
future when adults look back and long for their youth. She also says
that painting them came out of “missing them”.

Her business mentality has influenced her art as well. She says she
prefers to paint on smaller canvases because it encourages buyers to
purchase. “I like the idea of someone owning my artwork,” she says,
and this prompts her to paint small and charge reasonably so she can
share her pieces.

Once she graduated, it was time to start working as an artist. She
curated a once-a-month show in DUMBO, featuring friends and artists
she found on Craigslist, including her own pieces. She would not
accept work from artists that “looked like the work [she] did in [her]
freshman year at Pratt.”

Currently, she is dedicating herself to the flea, always incorporating
her art-based mind into her business. But painting will always be
there and she plans to paint more frequently and use her thrift
business to sell her artwork, using third parties like Etsy so handle
the selling. You can find her paintings on her personal etsy store
here,, and you can find
her and her partner’s thrift shop here,

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