Norma B. Marin was a third-grade teacher in New Jersey when she married John Marin Jr., son of the American artist John Marin.

She was a novice in the art world, though she quickly became immersed in it.

Norma Marin, who for seven decades worked with galleries and museums around the country to promote her father-in-law’s work, died Feb. 22. She was 91.

Norma Marin Photo courtesy of Marin family

She was remembered as a passionate advocate not just for Marin’s art but for emerging artists in Maine.

“Through working with my father all these years, she came to feel very passionate about John Marin’s work,” said her daughter, Lisa Marie Marin, of Jonesport. “It was a huge responsibility, very much on her shoulders. She worked tirelessly to take good care of his estate and paintings.”

After Marin’s death in 1953, Norma Marin and her husband worked with advisers and art dealers in New York, Washington, D.C., and Maine to promote his artwork. They collaborated with pioneering art dealer Edith Halpert, who created the Marin Room at her Downtown Gallery in New York. In 1986, the couple gave a trove of Marin’s oil paintings and watercolors to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.


A philanthropist and art collector, Norma Marin donated more than 250 works of art by her father-in-law and other artists to the Colby College Museum of Art.

Jacqueline Terrassa, director of the Colby College Museum of Art, said Norma Marin helped make Maine a home for art, and the museum a place for artists and others to, in Norma Marin’s words, “come and look and understand.”

“Her gifts of art to the museum were crucial in making the Colby Museum a destination,” Terrassa said in a statement. “These gifts include the Norma B. Marin Photography Collection, promised in 2011, and the Norma Boom Marin Collection of German Expressionist Prints in 2018, which was similarly transformative, as well as additional significant photographs, paintings and works on paper.”

Marin, who had a team of advisers, became the sole representative of the Marin estate after her husband’s death in 1988.

In 2011, she leant her support to “John Marin: Modernism at Mid-Century,” a groundbreaking exhibition of Marin’s long-overlooked later work at the Portland Museum of Art. She also gave her backing to an important exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, “John Marin’s Watercolors: A Medium for Modernism.”

According to her obituary, Marin made a major gift of artwork to the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock, which created a permanent home for the second largest collection of watercolors and drawings by Marin in the world, after the National Gallery.
“It is really overwhelming at times having to make the big decisions,” Norma Marin told the Press Herald in 2012. “I didn’t think about it as a young woman. But I think about it all the time now. I am in charge of his legacy. … I’ve always gone by this premise: If it’s right for Marin and if it’s good for Marin, then it’s good for everybody.”


Over the years, Norma Marin was involved with the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Portland Museum of Art and the Zillman Art Museum at the University of Maine.


“She was very much part of the fabric of the art world,” her daughter said. “There was a joy and spontaneity that was really special for her.”

She also loved opera and ballet.

Marin split her time between New York City and Cape Split, Maine, where she and her husband built their own gallery. In 2014, she settled in Cape Split permanently.

She bought paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, and prints, paying attention to younger artists.


Andy Verzosa, former owner of Aucocisco Galleries in Portland, said Marin was an avid supporter of him, his gallery and its artists.

“She was a big force,” Verzosa said. “She championed Maine artists. I’ll always be grateful for her friendship.”

Marin was remembered for her humor, strong personality and no-nonsense attitude. Lisa Marie Marin said her mother encouraged her to express her ideas and opinions.

“You always knew where you stood with her,” she said. “She was tough. She expected a lot. She expected people to be their best selves. I think she was tough on herself.”

Lisa Marie Marin reminisced about her early years, when she and her parents would take the boat out to Outer Sand Island for a picnic lunch.

“It had to be a perfect day to get there,” her daughter said. “Feeling the breeze against your face and smelling the salty air. Taking a picnic lunch and maybe having a fire on the beach and walking around the island. I would say those were some of my mother’s fondest moments and mine as well.”

Lisa Marie Marin said she plans to scatter some of her mother’s ashes on the island. She intends to continue her mother’s work

“I want to carry on the legacy of my grandfather’s work,” she said. “It’s important for me to do the right thing for his work and also to be supportive and promote art in Maine. It’s been such an important part of my life, my upbringing and career. I feel it very keenly, the responsibility.”

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