In 1950, a young Marlon Davidson first discovered art through a teacher named Tyne Mike. Davidson was 15 years old and at a new school. “It was my first time in a city-type school,” recalled Davidson, who was born in Dora Lake, MN. “She was a remarkable teacher who saw potential in me and told me I had a responsibility to this gift I had. By the time I was in High School, I knew for sure art was the path for me.”

This year Davidson turns 80, and instead of reminiscing personally, he is allowing the public to join his look back by showing a retrospective exhibit at Watermark Art Center. DAVIDSON AT EIGHTY, A RETROSPECTIVE features over 50 years’ worth of art. It displays the shift and evolution of Davidson’s style, from the realism of his early years to a looser, free feel today. It also shows the common thread that ties his work together. “One strong theme throughout all my work is the idea of pattern and repetition of pattern,” Davidson said. The exhibit includes works in oil, watercolor, silk screen print, etching, lithograph, acrylic painting, and drawing.

Davidson at Eighty

Davidson at Eighty

Davidson was educated at Bemidji State College, the University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis School of Art, as well as the University of Salzburg, Austria. His artistic career took many avenues. Davidson worked in commercial art, where he primarily did silk screen printing. He was an art educator who taught at West Saint Paul public schools and Bemidji State University. He also experienced the exhibition side of art, serving as executive director for the Bemidji Community Art Center. All the while, Davidson continued creating, exhibiting, and selling his personal work. He also collaborates with his life partner, Don Knudson, to make mixed media wall art through their business, Donmar Studios.

Davidson’s personal work, as well as his and Knudson’s collaborations, can be found across the United States and internationally. He has sold to private collections in Europe, and has work displayed at the University of Denmark.

DAVIDSON AT EIGHTY, A RETROSPECTIVE is presented by Watermark and Paul Bunyan Communications. The exhibit will run June 5-July 25 at Watermark. The public is invited to the opening reception on June 5, from 5-7 p.m.

“Some might think of this exhibit as a culmination, an end,” Davidson said. “But I see it as a beginning, too. This retrospective will guide me as to where I want to go from here.”

Davidson lives in Bemidji with Don Knudson, his partner of 56 years. Davidson is also a writer who has published a memoir and numerous short stories, essays, and poems. Learn more about him at