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September 19, 2000

Interview with Ben A. Marble

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Doctor, Artist, Musician

by Michael Smith

"Soap Opera," The Harbinger's cover art this week, was painted by artist Ben Marble who revealed that his inspiration was lost love. When a former love interest dumped Marble after being questioned by her old boyfriend, who she'd left for Ben, everyone came up a single. So Ben memorialized what had become "worse than anything on TV" with bold black lines on a stark red and white background.

Marble has lived on the Gulf Coast all of his life, growing up in Pensacola and finishing high school in Long Beach. He came to Mobile in 1988 and attended U.S.A., earning his undergraduate and medical school diplomas. Finishing his residency in family practice last June, Ben began working at local hospital emergency rooms, using his free time to paint and perform music.

The doctor plays guitar and sings in a four-piece band named Orifice which performs locally but spends more time recording alternative hard rock music. The band has sold CDs in ten different countries and currently has the number one on-line selling CD in the state at One song, "Maybe?", is receiving airtime on Rock 106.1 in Pensacola. As members of Liquid Dreams Records, Orifice is placing promotional materials in Rolling Stone, SPIN, and Music Biz.

Ben developed an interest in art through his mother; she was a strong influence "just being a good mom" and encouraging him to read a lot. As a child, he painted with his mom though she worked mainly in ceramics. Marble's only formal training, a class in art appreciation, resulted in his worst college grade. He is attracted to bright colors and the mood or message art portrays rather than the details. Locally, he especially likes Fred Marchman's work.

Ben started dabbling in art again about five years ago, finding inspiration in different places. One piece, which Marble jokingly referred to as "the Medical Food Chain," was based on the concept that a patient's misery can teach doctors the process of medicine. A velvet Elvis painting led to "Elvis Dream Sunset," an acrylic on rug rendering.

Though he works primarily in acrylics on canvas, Ben has done some pastels and has put together mixed media pieces, including one painting with numerous king cake babies. Another includes a real spider web in the brightly-colored "Tangled Web." One piece, a silver bullet sculpture, hung from the ceiling at Hayley's several years ago during an exhibit around Mardi Gras. Somehow, people starting throwing beads over the nose of the sculpture and after about forty to fifty of the carnival throws were firmly wrapped around it, someone thought enough of it to take it. It hasn't been seen since.

However, you can see "Soap Opera" and other works by our guest artist, Ben A. Marble, at Cathedral Gallery on Dauphin Street downtown. Look for his signature, BAM2, a shortened version of Bam-Bam, his grandmother's name for him as a child.


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