The Subconscious Outsider Artist who Married a Billionaire and won over Houdini (!) Marian Spore Bush


Marian was born Flora May Spore in Michigan and became the first female dentist in Bay County, Michigan. After her mother died in 1919, she had a major transformation. She gave up her dental practice, moved to Guam and began painting. According to her sister, she had never shown any inclination towards art until that time. Like all aspiring artists, she soon rented a studio in Greenwich Village. Having her own style, self-taught, she laid the paint on deep, building the canvas up so thick at times it looked like sculpture.

A good story, but now it gets weird.
Apparently Spore could somehow channel dead artists and attributed her skills to the spirit of her late mother. She explored her ESP talents with Dr. Prince of the Boston Psychic Society. Her paintings became a sensation, being exhibited at the finest galleries in NYC. The American Weekly printed a story titled "Pictures my Mother sends me from the Grave." No less than anti-spiritualist Harry Houdini was taken with her work and said, I am not kidding, “It is a great exhibition. I am certain of Miss Spore’s honesty. I have never excluded the possibility of supernatural intervention from my belief. I have been engaged in the exposure of criminal fakers… there is no question of that here. Miss Spore has something beautiful and is conveying it to her fellow men.”

With her success as a painter, which at the time was apparently extensive, she opened a soup kitchen for the hungry on the Bowery. Now
1/3 artist, 1/3 soup kitchen worker and 1/3 socialite, Marian met Billionaire Irving T. Bush, another whole story as big as the painting shown here...who married her in Reno one hour after the divorce from his second wife was finalized.

Now, at least seemingly, the artist has been forgotten. The last time her work was shown was a retrospective in 1946, the work has not been seen in public for over 60 years. I for one would love to see it. She wrote a book about her spirit paintings entitled "They" in 1947. Except for the incredible, detailed, extraordinary wiki profile HERE, on which I relied completely for this article, the remarkable work seems to have vanished into thin air. In fact, a Google search turns up only one photo of the artist and none of her work.

I found the photograph here at an antique show, it was taken in 1938. I've cropped it, labeled it...and I will be more than happy to share the entire photo and credits with any art scholar who can show me more of the work! There is a SERIOUS book tale and exhibition here...anyone want to do the work? I don't have the energy.

8 comments:

  1. Amazing. There must be some paintings out there some where.

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  2. Hell, I'm just pleased to have found the PHOTO. It's 70 years old and 8 x 10.

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  3. thanks so much for bringing her to light again.

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  4. To me, it seems like there is a big fat art story sitting there waiting to be written about. If I'd found the photo 5 years ago, when I lived in NYC, I'd have been all over it. Someone will do something some day. Even a catalog and show would be enough. I just want to see the work.

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  5. Can you figure out what the painting is about? Is it a battlefield? Ghosts? It has this strange ant farm look to it. Oh, you're right. There's an interesting story there. Wonder if any of the paintings still exist. Definite book in there.

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  6. At a matter of fact, it is entitled "War" so you are correct. The wiki article says she had a black and white period, this would cleary be one of those.

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  7. I live in New York, point me the right direction and I'll see what I can find out.

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  8. Good one and it helps a lot.Thank you for your great post.

    Karim - Positive thinking

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