Marie Ulmer is a 97 year old artist who I began to represent at Bambi Gallery in 2007. We became fast friends and we are still friends. She has made a piece of art everyday for the last ninety years. For thirty five years she worked at the Free Library of Philadelphia as a commercial illustrator. During that period, she continued her studio practice as a fine artist. Her art work, which spans over eight decades, includes a wide variety of styles and mediums. Some of the most striking works for me have been her self portraits. She used herself as a model primarily because, as she put it, “I drew who was available.” She is an only child, who was never married and without children, and she devoted herself to art, her constant companion. I have great admiration for her dedication and persistence regarding her art.
I have been photographing Marie for over five years. The idea for a book project began two years ago. My goal is to produce a book that will include my photographs of Marie in conjunction with her self portraits, with one as early as age seven. In the years that I have been photographing her, I have discovered her alter ego, or the personality she never explored, has developed in front of the camera to become my muse.
I discovered a brownie camera when I was 8. In high school I was named most individualistic and sported a green mohawk. It was the 80’s. I graduated from The University of The Arts with a BFA. After graduation I left Philadelphia to hop trains and hitchhike throughout Europe. I shot 92 rolls of film. Two years later, I landed back in Philadelphia and used it as a base to live and work in other places. I had always dreamt about San Francisco so I packed up a few boxes and my two cats and headed in that direction. On the West Coast I unearthed the secrets of aromatherapy, worked for an urban rag and began to self actualize. I rode horseback home to the East. In 2005 I opened Bambi Gallery in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. During Bambi’s illustrious run, over 400 artists were shown and numerous careers were launched. In 2011, I closed Bambi Gallery to focus on my own work. And here I am.