Photographer Ann Marsden dies at 55


Article by: MARY ABBE
Startribune entertainment

Popular photographer of actors, musicians and artists, died July 8, 2012.

"I was born curious about people, places and things," photographer Ann Marsden once said about a 30-year career that took her from her north Minneapolis studio to travels around the world.

Beloved by the Twin Cities arts community, Marsden made her reputation photographing actors, musicians and personalities from Guthrie Theater Director Joe Dowling to Minnesota Orchestra Conductor Osmo Vanska and Grammy Award winning singer-conductor Bobby McFerrin. Nationally her subjects included politicians Barack Obama and Al Gore, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, and corporate clients ranging from Best Buy to Target Corporation.

Marsden, 55, died at her St. Paul home Sunday following a three year struggle against cervical cancer.




Ann Marsden, she made mostly all the "official"
John Gorka photos.....

"Annie was a great creative spirit," said Lisa Nebenzahl, a friend for more than 30 years. "She took portraits as a living, but she really was an artist at the core and that informed all of her work."

When she first picked up a camera in a high school journalism class, Marsden once said, she felt a "spiritual" charge that led her to seek the emotional truth of an image rather than to fret about technical perfection. Her memorable portraits were marked by deft lighting, vibrant colors and dynamic compositions that enhanced their subjects without compromising their honesty. She hated schedules, but loved traveling to places as near as Mount Rushmore and as far as Southeast Asia. Always she was drawn by the faces of the people she met.

Her bread-and-butter work, however, was for the actors and musicians of the Twin Cities for whom she shot album covers, promotional portraits and stage performances.

"She was such a bright, energetic communicator and such a great artist," said Bain Boehlke, founding artist director of the Jungle Theater, who worked with her for more than 20 years. She was a sensitive collaborator who recognized good ideas, made work fun, and who "always seemed able to elicit authentic emotional and poetic energy from the actors," he said.

After her cancer diagnosis became public knowledge, clients and friends staged a sold-out benefit for her at the Dakota Jazz Club in January 2011. It ran for five hours and included spirited tributes by wordsmith Kevin Kling, guitarist Dean Magraw and singers Dennis Spear, Allison Scott, Prudence Johnson and John Gorka among others.

Born and raised in St. Paul, Marsden attended Our Lady of Peace High School but did not graduate. When she was about 16 she began working at


Finn's Camera Store, a local emporium, and was self-taught from then on. National assignments often took her to New York, but the Twin Cities remained her home base.

Besides her commercial work, Marsden also made documentary, travel, and quirky still life images -- of cars, shop windows, odd furniture -- that demonstrated her keen eye and quick wit. She revealed a moodier side in an exhibition, "Discarded but Not Lost," at IFP gallery in St. Paul in May 2010. A dual show with her partner, filmmaker Ann Prim, it featured small, dusky pictures of such familiar but rarely memorialized things as a wishbone or an abandoned book. It was her first gallery show in more than 20 years.

"What we are familiar with we cease to see until it is seen and presented anew by another," Marsden and Prim wrote about the IFP project.

IFP curator Vance Gellert said Marsden's "low key, intriguing, contemplative and soothing" art prints contrasted with her own vibrant personality. "She always knew how to make you feel special and happy to be with her," he said.

She is survived by her partner Ann Prim, her mother Mary Marsden of St. Paul, sister Betsy McConnell of Boston and brothers Brian Marsden of St. Paul and Craig Marsden of New York City. Her father David Marsden, a Ramsey County district court judge, predeceased her.

Memorial arrangements are pending.

Mary Abbe 612-673-4431 .


Photo: Ann Marsden 2006   Photo: Ann Marsden 2008

CD cover photos made by Ann Marsden  
Publicity photo by Ann Marsden

CD cover photos made by Ann Marsden   Publicity photo by Ann Marsden



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