Marlene Zimmerman is a Los Angeles-based artist who works in a variety of media but whose constant theme is California and U.S. history. Her first influential work was the acrylic on canvas, Celebration of the Peoples of Los Angeles in 1980, depicting 160 different people from 80 different ethnic groups. Another celebrated work is Their Presence Was Felt, painted in acrylic on board, featuring portraits of 158 people who helped make this nation: pioneers, artists, politicians, writers, and entrepreneurs along the lines of John F. Kennedy, Lillian Russell, Frederick Douglas, and Levi Strauss, to name a few. Her watercolors memorializing how Los Angeles used to appear were prompted by a trip to Texas 30 years ago, when she realized that all of their shopping centers were beginning to look just like the stores that she began to see in L.A. “The world is going to be nothing but chain stores,” she remembers thinking.
Her ceramic sculpture of the Breed Street Shul in East L.A. was selected by President Clinton for the White House’s Hanukkah Ceremony in 1999. “Being with the Clintons in the Oval Office was a real highlight,” she says. The menorah is now in the Clinton Library and pictured on its website.