The surviving partner of a recently deceased Langley artist will receive assistance from local art lovers and community members who initiated a fundraiser to purchase a sculpture from her late partner’s estate.
The sculpture, titled “Sunrise/Sunset,” was installed in the Price Sculpture Forest last week, where it will stand as a tribute both to its creator’s artistic legacy and the power of community goodwill.
“Sunrise/Sunset” was made by Langley resident Ivan Neaigus, who passed away in July. It was just one of many stone works the sculptor left behind and part of an even larger collection of art in other media; Neaigus also sculpted in wood and metal and painted.
Neaigus is survived by his partner of eight years, Talia Toni Marcus. A talented artist in her own right as a composer and musician, Marcus appeared on “The Jack Benny Show” as a child to display her prodigious violin talent, played with Van Morrison in the late 1970s and composed the music for the 1983 movie “Summerspell,” to name just a few of her many accolades. Since moving to Whidbey Island in 1996, she has been deeply involved with the local music and arts community.
Marcus and Neaigus crossed paths for the first time decades before they became a couple. Neaigus was born in London in 1939 to a long line of tailors and began his career as a clothing designer. He emigrated to Los Angeles, Calif. in 1963, where he met and married his first wife, Karen. Karen was a dancer, and Marcus was one of the musicians that played for her dance company.
In Los Angeles, Neaigus and Marcus ran in many of the same circles, Marcus said, though they didn’t know each other well. They would bump into each other at jazz concerts, dances, lunch parties and even yoga classes.
In 1984, Neaigus moved to Langley with his second wife, Sarah Wallace. Marcus said it wasn’t until he moved to Whidbey Island that Neaigus developed an interest in sculpting. More than a decade later, Marcus felt inclined to leave Los Angeles as well. A professional associate of hers said Whidbey Island was in need of a new violin teacher, and once again, Marcus found herself in the same place as Neaigus.
“Ivan heard that I was on here from some mutual friends,” Marcus said. “So we began our association as mutual artists on South Whidbey.”
The pair worked together in a professional capacity for years and became a couple about a year after Wallace died of Alzheimers in 2012. They were together until Neaigus passed away in July.
After his passing, Neaigus’ estate was divided among a number of inheritors. Marcus’ portion included Neaigus’ sizeable art collection.
“Talia’s share includes selling Ivan’s sculptures and artworks to help provide her some income for her uncertain future ahead,” Scott Price, founder of the Price Sculpture Forest, wrote in an email. “Talia and other members of the local arts community are collaborating together so that some of Ivan’s private collection will continue to be accessible to the public into the future.”
Some of Marcus’ friends and family started a fundraiser to purchase one of Neaigus’ sculptures for the Price Sculpture Forest. The fundraiser serves the dual purpose of providing Marcus with some cash while also allowing “Sunrise/Sunset” to remain on display for the public.
The chosen sculpture was installed in the forest Dec. 2. The piece is at least 400 pounds of stone, depicting dawn on one side and dusk on the other.
“It’s such a simple design, but the concept is great,” Price said.