4 minute read

Art: Honoring Marjorie Brandon

Artistic Endeavors

Honoring Marjorie Brandon and her award recipient, Buddy Jones.

Story by Natalie Caudle | Photos provided by Center for Spiritual Living

Every fall, the Marjorie Brandon Award is presented by the Center for Spiritual Living, in conjunction with the Brandon-Mitchell Gallery, to one local artist who demonstrates exceptional talent in their craft. The award was partly inspired by Marjorie Brandon and as a result, named after her. She was a member of the center and community contributor who passed away this year on August 9, at the age of 109. She is fondly remembered by the center’s members as a petite woman with a sparkling and adventurous spirit who was always up for adventure and learning new things. In the words of those who knew her best, "She was a treasure."

Marjorie was a transplant to the Valley. Growing up in Los Angeles, she moved to San Francisco, eager to find work and begin an independent life. Having spent her only money on a red hat and shoes, Marjorie successfully landed a position where she met her future husband, Elmer Cord. Soon after marrying, Marjorie and Elmer left their home in a water tower and moved to Three Rivers, where they built a house designed in the popular mid-century modern style. “It was beautiful…bringing the beauty and sound of the rushing river into the interior of the small, modern, glass-fronted structure,” remembers Sue Garber, Marjorie’s niece.

Unfortunately, Elmer passed away 12 years after the couple was married. Marjorie later moved to Visalia, meeting local citrus farmer Frank Brandon at a square dance. Frank and Marjorie married and moved into an antique Victorian house in Exeter, where Marjorie was able to begin life anew as a wife and a stepmother to teenage boys.

As a sculptor, he refines discarded pieces of wood and creates one-of-a-kind works of art.

2022 Marjorie Brandon Award winner Buddy Jones stands with one of his sculptures in downtown Visalia.

2022 Marjorie Brandon Award winner Buddy Jones stands with one of his sculptures in downtown Visalia.

After three decades of teaching, Marjorie retired and explored her passion for art, dabbling in acrylics and watercolors. Marjorie studied under local artist Abby Rubinstein, where she developed her technique. Having traveled to multiple countries on an international art trek, she returned ignited with a unique love for collages. As a result, Marjorie began to expand her craft, teaching classes, holding workshops, and sitting on art boards. At the vibrant age of 91, Marjorie created 10 collages, one for each decade of her life, telling her story through the beauty of art.

The 2022 Marjorie Brandon Award winner is Buddy Jones, an artist who has honed his skills in woodcarving and percussion. As a sculptor, he refines discarded pieces of wood and creates one-of-a-kind works of art. Buddy’s most recent sculpture sits on the corner of Main and Church Streets, where he has brought life back to an old tree stump through his exceptional craft.

In addition to wood carving, Buddy brings creativity to the local community through his drumming talent. Buddy currently leads a drum circle at the Heritage Cultural Foundation and on any given Thursday evening during the Downtown Visalia’s Certified Farmers Market. Additionally, he devotes his time to serving his community through the Boys and Girls Club, the Arts Consortium, and his organization Buddy Jones & Friends, which is devoted to embracing cultural diversity.

As a contractor, Buddy worked diligently in creating a train depot in Allensworth State Park. This endeavor facilitates historical tourism and celebrates the contribution of black leaders in the community.

Buddy continues to carry the legacy of Marjorie Brandon and honors the imprint she left. Marjorie was not only an artist, but a teacher and mentor; her passion for life and beauty continues to live on through the artistic endeavors of Valley crafters and makers.