Grant Marshall spent a lifetime creating beautiful, functional environments – as an artist, interior designer and teacher.
An accomplished designer, he was responsible for many of the interiors that defined Winnipeg’s 1950s modern architecture boom, including the Monarch Life Building (now Worker’s Compensation Board of Manitoba) on Broadway and many private residences.
As a volunteer, Grant created joyful atmospheres for charitable agencies, including Ronald McDonald House and Ann Ross Daycare at Mount Carmel Clinic. (The latter project earned him a Manitoba Premier’s Award of Excellence.) And, he designed costumes and sets for Rainbow Stage, Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet – where he met his wife, Marnie, the company’s principal dancer.
He was a talented and prolific watercolourist who helped shape Winnipeg’s visual art scene and was an owner of one of the first private art galleries in the city. For three decades, he owned a store that stocked modern furniture and fashions from Europe, contributing to Winnipeggers’ sense of style.
While Grant was no doubt proud of his awards, exhibitions, and family (two daughters and, later, grandchildren), Marnie Marshall says her husband’s 40-year teaching career in the University of Manitoba’s Department of Interior Design was a huge highlight.
“He loved teaching,” she says. “He was always impressed by the creativity of the students; he just got a kick out of seeing what they were able to do. And there were some brilliant students.”
He treated all students fairly and instilled a solid work ethic as well, says Marnie.
“He wanted to give kids a chance – he wanted them to work hard, though,” she says.
And so, following Grant’s passing in 2012, Marnie decided to create a legacy that would pay tribute to his love of teaching and commitment to art and community.
She established the Manitoba Printmakers Marshall Fund at The Winnipeg Foundation to provide a permanent source of support for youth outreach programming at Martha Street Studio, home of the Manitoba Printmakers’ Association.
The fund provides an annual grant to the Studio – a dependable and welcome source of revenue for key programming, says Kristin Nelson, Co-Director.
“Just to have that income, especially stable income, for an artist-run centre, is very important and hard to come by,” says Ms. Nelson.
The money is earmarked for the Studio’s printmaking programs for young Winnipeggers.
“I knew about this place and one of the drawing cards was that it helps young people. And I think that it was really important to Grant to nurture talent,” says Mrs. Marshall.
Two evenings a week for 12 weeks, participants in Martha Street Studio’s youth outreach program gain hands-on experience in a variety of printing techniques. Some have aspirations to become professional artists, while others seek a supportive group of like-minded young people.
“I think they all find whatever it is they’re looking for in a program,” says Ms. Nelson. “Even [if it’s] just the stability of a program. And I think that’s what’s wonderful about it: the mix of people, the way they communicate with each other can be something that leads to their own growth.”
Graduates of the program take a wide variety of paths, says Ms. Nelson. And that’s the point.
“To know that some of them went on to art school, some of them went on to design school, some of them went on for business school…It’s quite a lovely thing that has been successful in terms of the community it’s built.”
Some participants will go on to the Studio’s INKubator program, which allows them to take their skills to the next level. They also have the chance to interact with the established artists, who use the space.
“I think the studio itself offers mentorship opportunities,” says Ms. Nelson. “[Youth outreach participants] are hanging out here with [internationally-recognized artist] Wanda Koop – just having lunch with her. It’s something other people would dream of if they’re in the arts. I think Martha Street Studio offers a platform for that to happen, it’s built into the organization.”
Even if participants don’t go on to careers in fine arts, the creative experience presents an empowering opportunity, says Ms. Nelson.
“It’s physically making an object. And I think that’s really important in today’s society – that people have that connection to what they can put out into the world. That gives them a power. It’s sort of a self-gratifying, confidence-boosting thing to do in life and I think regardless of if they become artists, the result is still wonderful.”
And how would Grant Marshall feel about being part of this process?
“I think he would have been pleased,” says Mrs. Marshall.
For information on different types of funds, or how to start a fund at The Winnipeg Foundation, visit www.wpgfdn.org or call 204.944.9474 (toll-free 1.877.974.3631).