Face of Malibu: Marie Stapel

The Face of Malibu is an ongoing series by portrait artist Johanna Spinks to record the many unique personalities and newsmakers who shape the modern Malibu community. Each sitter is always painted in a single live sitting. If there is someone you would like to nominate, please email associate editor Knowles Adkisson at knowles@malibutimes.com.

Marie Stapel's California roots run deep. Her grandfather moved to Los Angeles in the late 1800s and developed 900 acres in the Centinela Valley, donating much of his land for schools and special needs. A third-generation Angeleno, Stapel moved to Malibu in 1972. After a successful 30-year career in business management and real estate, Stapel now spends much of her time painting the scenic coast of Malibu. She has been a member of the Malibu Art Association since the late 1970s, serving currently as the co-president for the second time. 

The Malibu Times got a chance to sit down with the woman who wants to promote the art scene in Malibu as much as possible to, as she says, bring back the essence of the city. 

You are now co-president of the Malibu Arts Association for the second time. How did you get into that? 

I’ve always been interested in art. I used to take a lot of art classes in high school. I have been active in the Malibu Art Association for over 30 years. I served as president for three years in the late ’90s and again at the present time for the last two years. The Malibu Art Association was organized 50 years ago to promote art in Malibu by Marjorie Knowles, with the legal expertise and supportive help of the late Judge John Merrick. For 50 years it has been an inspiration to many local residents and students providing monthly demonstrations by known artists. 

What are your thoughts about the art scene in Malibu? How would you like to see it change? 

We used to have galleries here. I would like to see creative and unique boutiques that feature art in Malibu. We have a lot of talented artists that work in their private studios. The goal for the organization for the next 50 years will be to promote art in Malibu and to establish and develop a non-profit art center to teach art, drama, dance [and] film making, and to promote and teach the arts in all media and venues to Malibu residents, adults and young students. A center with enough room to have meetings, workshops and a public gallery to showcase all works. 

How would you suggest getting the young people interested in the arts? 

They are interested. A lot of art classes are offered at the local schools. And the schools have art shows. Malibu Art Association judged it last year. The young people are already studying art here in Malibu and the center would bring more notice to us. 

What is your favorite thing about Malibu? 

The ocean and the beauty. I am a swimmer. I body surf with my grandsons. 

If you could change one thing about Malibu what would it be and why? 

I would like to see Malibu be able to have creative and unique businesses, art galleries and one-of-a-kind boutiques as we did in the past. We need more diversity. We are an art-motivated city. I would like to see Malibu have more of an active art scene. There is such beautiful scenery around us. The art center combined with boutiques and galleries would bring back the essence of Malibu. 

How was it having your portrait painted by Johanna Spinks? 

I have known her for a long time. She is a member of the Art Association. She’s very talented, very experienced. She’s a lovely lady and well educated. It was quite an honor to be painted by her. She is a very talented artist reaching into the community to show who we really are. Perhaps this will bring back the true essence of Malibu. 

Johanna Spinks paints portrait by commission. Visit johannaspinks.com or call 310.384.7029 for more information. 

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