Jim McCaffrey • Main Line Life Newspaper • December, 2001

Todd Marrone is a quick draw artist. He may be the best known unknown artist on the Main Line.

Thousands of people have likely seen his work — he hangs it on telephone poles, leaves it in train stations and puts stacks out in stores. Recently some were set out like lawn signs with each piece signed boldly “Vote Todd.” Marrone is currently creating line drawings – 40 to 50 of them at a sitting – by squirting black acrylic paint from a glue bottle.

Where ever he leaves his work he attaches to each piece an explanation of who he is and something about why and how the work was created. He also leaves his Web site address, www.toddmarrone.com.

His drawings often have faces like African masks. The bodies, most often female, are elongated in a manner purposely recalling Modigliani.

“It’s a symbiotic relationship I have with the public,” Marrone explains. “They get free artwork. I get many sets of eyeballs to look at my work. I think in many ways this is better than having it in galleries.”

Marrone’s work is about making art accessible. Currently the Ardmore artist has pieces in the Spector Gallery on Fifth and Bainbridge in Philadelphia and at The Well Fed Artist Gallery one block north of Market Street on N. 3rd St. in Philadelphia.

Rolling Rock Breweries once purchased one of his paintings and distributed 35,000 poster-size copies.

His exhibits aren’t what pay the bills, however.

The 27-year old Marrone teaches art at Welsh Valley Middle School. He is one of the rare people who was hired right out of college to teach in the Lower Merion School District. He graduated top of his class and received his teaching certificate from Kutztown University. He’s been instructing sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade art at WVMS for five years.

“It’s nice to have a steady income because I don’t have to be buyer conscious,” he says. “All the money I make with my art sales goes in to a separate account. If I go for sixth months and nothing sells — it doesn’t matter when I have a paycheck.”

Marrone is fortunate in that he sees his work in the schools as just another aspect of his artistic life.

He says, “I love kids and I love art. Art is a subject I’m passionate about. One of the great Middle School art experiences is turning kids on to art. Visually this is the age that sets a course for them for the rest of their lives. We do a lot of work in the classes discussing criticism and aesthetics. I try to teach them to look at what is in front of them. I tell them anybody with a set of eyeballs is entitled to an opinion.”

Under Marrone’s direction the students put together an annual animated film festival.

“It’s an opportunity for kids who feel they don’t have a lot of ability in art to accomplish something and learn that they can be creative. I’m in a very fortunate situation,” he says. “We have great kids and the support of parents and administrators. I’ve shown kids reproductions of the Mona Lisa and a kids will say, ‘I’ve seen that.’

“I’ll explain this is a very famous painting and it’s likely they have seen reproductions on television or in ads. The kids will say, ‘No, I saw it at the Louvre in Paris.”

The teaching not only doesn’t distract Marrone from his work, it encourages him to work.

“I’m in an art room all day with supplies and the kids’ enthusiasm,” he says. “I’m very productive during the school year creating, marketing, pushing gigs. I don’t know how any art teacher who has to be in a room all day with all those materials and talking about artists and art movements all day long can’t be inspired.”

The work he is now giving to the public Marrone calls the Glue Bottle Series.

“Each one takes me about 15 to 30 seconds to make,” he says. “It’s so exciting. Like a dialogue between myself and the work. There’s a communication between what’s happening in front of me and what I’m doing.”

Marrone explains, “Art work is something I’m thinking, feeling, doing all the time. I’m always doing an analysis of visual images. There are many influences on me — Picasso, Basquiat, Keith Haring, pop culture, comics, video games.”

So if you see an original Todd Marrone — help yourself.

One Response to “Welsh Valley Teacher Practices Art of Quick Draw”
  1. Claire from your 6th grade art class says:

    i think that it is SOOOO cool that u hav a website mr. Marrone! keep on rockin the art world!