Marion Pike

I was named for my grandmother Marion Pike who was also an artist. Here are some pictures of her as well as some information about her life:

Cuckoo in her studio in Los Angeles

Cuckoo with Coco Chanel

Marion Pike, Aka Cuckoo    1913 – 1998

Marion Pike was born in 1913 on her family’s ranch in Northern California, the niece of the early American pioneer Kit Carson.  Admitted to Stanford at the age of 14, she earned the Block “S” Blanket for all around excellence in sports for being on fourteen teams including golf. She was one of the first women to ever receive this accolade.It was on a golf course in the 1930’s where she met Bob and Dolores Hope who later gave her the nickname of Cuckoo. This is what we all called her instead of something like Grandmother or Nana. Cuckoo led a fascinating life that included painting portraits of Pope John Paul II in Rome, the skies off Claudette Colbert’s beach in Barbados, Zubin Mehta conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Artur Rubinstein dictating his memoirs in Marbella, Coco Chanel in Paris, Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore, Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, Estee Lauder,  Licia Albanese of the New York Metropolitan Opera, Ronald and Nancy Reagan at the White House and Lucille and Norton Simon in Los Angeles. When I was born, Lucille became another grandmother figure in my life as I spent many hours and days at her house being introduced to art through her collection . So I have been surrounded by art and artists my whole life which no doubt shaped the work I make today.

Lucille Simon holding me as a baby in 1971

Please visit Marion Pike’s blog for contact information.

12 thoughts on “Marion Pike

  1. Back in the early 1980s I was a physician with a medical group whose office was in downtown Los Angeles. One day your mother came in for a physical exam. As I recall she was quite healthy for a woman her age. At a 2nd visit to go over her test results she asked me if I would like her to paint my portrait. I had no idea she was a well respected artist but I could not really say no thanks and hurt her feelings. Some days later I went to her studio. Turns out she lived in a very nice neighborhood in a beautiful house. Her studio was huge and filled with portraits of famous people. Her portrait of Ronald Reagan had been on the cover of TIME. I sat for her 5 or 6 times, never in the same place or same light. I could not see her work until it was completed. I was amazed and thrilled with my portrait. I have it hanging in my bedroom and someday will bequeath it to my heirs with pride. I will send a photo to you via email if you wish. It shows me as a younger man than I was when I met her. She saw my youthful persona with which I am blessed. In the last 30 years I have aged very little and feel like I have another 20+ years in me at least. Everyday I urge people to take care of themselves and not depend on a handful of pills to counteract unhealthy diets and lifestyles. I have credibility because I walk the talk.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story about my grandmother. She always found something interesting in everyone she met and sought out to discover more by painting their portrait. She was an ageless and timeless person who wore pants when others wore skirts and believed in tolerance over ignorance. Ahead of her time in every way, Cuckoo embraced life more fully than anyone I have ever known and painted up until the day she died. Her boundless energy and incredible talent will be missed by all who knew her.

    1. Thanks, Kate, for selecting me as an “Artist Crush” on your great blog, Art Hound. It is a thrill to be featured along with other artists I admire and validates years of hard work. To have this affirmation gives me the boost to continue making art.

  2. Dear Marion

    I Just returned from my hometown of carmel and rediscovered Marion Pike’s work after receiving the book on her by Sarda from my mom, then acquired a landscape shortly after, rather serendipitous! her work is exquisite, the play on light, textures, colors and perspective…

    Best regards,
    Bryan Beckman

    1. You are right, Bryan, my Grandmother was such a gifted painter and completely self-taught. Her ability to capture and paint what she observed was so effortless that I marveled at watching her work. She taught me so much as an artist and helped me with my self-portrait when I was applying to art school. She painted every day of her life and showed by example how to be a disciplined artist. She taught me that art just doesn’t appear out of nowhere so stop whining about life and paint! There is no artist working today who conveys the beauty that my grandmother was able to achieve in her landscapes and skies. The other day here in Los Angeles, we had some wild heat followed by a crazy humid and tropical rain shower ending with fantastic pink clouds. I thought to myself that if Cuckoo were here she would have painted that sky and it would have been as beautiful and breathtaking as the real thing.

  3. I had the great good fortune of having lunch with your grandmother several times in Palm Springs. She had painted my friend, Alexis Ruhl’s mother, Faye Spanos. We lunched with Marion, Dolores Hope, and William Powell’s widow, Mousy. Listening to their take on Hollywood in the 40’s and 50’s was
    one of the most memorable lunches I have ever experienced.
    They knew how to have fun, be spontaneous and party! Your
    Grandmother was remarkable for being such an independent woman and “free spirit” for her times.

  4. Last night, out of the blue, I thought of your grandmother and decided to Google her and came upon your site. I was a young friend of the actress Claudette Colbert and the very first time I visited Claudette at her home in Barbados, in 1986, your grandmother was also a houseguest. I was extremely nervous, felt out of my depth, and your grandmother made a point to put me at ease and every night for two weeks before dinner, we’d meet in the living room for a drink and discuss the current events of the day. She was a remarkable woman in many ways, and in my living room today hangs of photo that Marion took of Claudette and myself.
    Thank you for sharing your memories…and every good wish for a joyous holiday and a happy new year!

  5. During the 1980’s I worked as a pest control tech for Terminex, with a route that extended from Watts to Beverly Hills. I was thrilled one day when my route took me to Marion Pike’s beautiful home. Being an artist myself, I was awestruck to be standing in the presence of such a great artist as your grandmother. I remember her beautiful home, with the long hallway which led to a room with a fireplace. But what I remember most was taking the long staircase into her spectacular art studio. The high ceilings, huge windows and the view. Once there I knew I was out of my league as an artist. She showed me her work and I commented that I was an artist myself. She said “I’d love to see your work sometime.” Embarassed, I responded that my work didn’t look anything like hers. She stopped me and said “Your work may not look like mine, but my work may not look like yours either. All true art will always evoke an emotion.” Since then I’ve not compared my work to any one else, and have used her words in my work as a salon educator. I’m sorry to read that she passed away. Marion was and will always be an inspiration to me in both talent and humility.


  6. My wife and I were married on Nov. 7, 1965 and as a wedding gift your grandmother painted a beautiful still life of a floral arrangement. Marion was a friend of my mother who I believe were friends in San Francisco where I was born in 1941. We love our painting and are so thankful to have it.. We are also very fortunate to have two other works by Marion that were left to us by my mother.

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