For almost half a century Marilyn Nix was a beloved, omnipresent personality—and a sort of magical envoy—within the Los Angeles art community. An accomplished writer, art critic, Wikipedia editor, curator and public relations professional, she was also the mother of a son, Jason Henry McCormick, and friend to many artists and art world figures. With her characteristic generosity, she went out of her way to enrich many lives, making introductions and spontaneous promotions that helped build numerous friendships and careers.
In recent years, Nix held the position of assistant studio manager for the iconic Los Angeles artist Ed Moses. In that role she was responsible for public relations, publications, archives and exhibition support. Marilyn was also co-curator, with Juli Carson, of A Performative Trigger: Radicals of Irvine, at the University of California Irvine Claire Trevor School of the Arts last fall. The exhibit focused on an area of personal interest to Marilyn: the work and lives of UCI students of the 1970s who went on to become art world luminaries: Chris Burden, Nancy Buchanan, Richard Newton, Alexis Smith, Barbara T. Smith, Bradley Smith, Paula Sweet and Robert Wilhite. Although a graduate of UCLA, Marilyn discovered LA’s “new generation” of experimental artists at UCI in the early 1970s and worked hard for them ever since. She championed many of these artists, and many of their contemporaries, throughout her adult life. Notably, she supported the realization of their projects through Carp, the organization she co-founded and ran with Barbara Burden in the late 1970s.
Marilyn had an unforgettable voice. Rich and melodious, it was the perfect instrument for her signature wit and sense of irony. Her caustic take on the world belied her optimism and generosity of spirit, but no one who knew her was oblivious to her expansive, giving personality.
Marilyn Nix died of cancer on April 8. We are profoundly saddened, and deeply diminished, by her loss – and ever grateful that she was, until so recently, among us.
Megan Abrahams / Peter Frank