Marilyn Belschner

1930, Beatrice, Nebraska – 2018, Chadron, Nebraska

View Artwork

Born March 7, 1930 in Beatrice, Nebraska, Marilyn Jean Fuller was the only child of Marion and Margaret Fuller. Her newly-married parents, a bus driver and a young school teacher, struggled to establish a home in the hard times that the Great Depression caused. Growing up in the 1930s, Marilyn drew and made her own paper dolls – designing and creating their clothes along with rooms for them to live in from wallpaper books and remnants. This urge to create continued throughout her life.

In 1945, when she was in her mid teens, the family moved to Kearney, Nebraska. Marilyn graduated from Kearney High School in 1948 and attended Nebraska State Teachers College (now University of Nebraska at Kearney) for one year. In 1949, she married James Belschner and moved to nearby Amherst, Nebraska, where she lived for 35 years and raised their two daughters. Beginning when she was a young girl, she was often asked to help with artwork and creative designs for school and church projects, which she continued during her years as a mother in a small town. She was also an active partner in her husband’s business, Belschner General Merchandise, which had been continuously owned and operated by the family since 1892 and now by her grandson as Belschner Custom Meats. She won Make-It-With-Wool contests, and was a contestant in nine Pillsbury Bake-Offs and one Dole Pineapple Cooking Classic. A trip to Chicago to see the Andrew Wyeth art exhibition in 1966 together with receiving her first art award at the Governor’s Nebraska Centennial Art Show launched her ambition to be an artist.

Not relying on art for income or a business, Marilyn was able to paint from her heart and her emotions. She was avid about researching her topics and taking her own photographs for references in creating her work. Inspired by American artists Georgia O’Keefe and Andrew Wyeth and independent study with teachers Sergei Bongart, Albert Handell, and Ned Jacob, Belschner worked in a traditional realism style. Characterizing her creations as “a celebration of color and light,” she said, “My work is more about feeling than seeing.” She illustrated two books in pen and ink, worked in watercolor, sculpture, and oils, but her preferred medium was pastels. For subjects, she particularly favored creating portraits. Over a 50-year career, her work was included in numerous exhibitions and she was represented by several galleries.

Moving to Taos, New Mexico in 1996 fulfilled a dream to live, paint, and study the people and faces of the southwest after years of seasonal visits. Establishing Poco Tiempo, her private studio there, was a time in her life that she had been searching for – spiritual harmony as an artist and a woman. Her many travels to Europe and Maui, Hawaii further broadened her work. Marilyn returned to Nebraska in 2005 to be closer to family, first living in Grand Island before moving to Chadron in 2012 to reside in an independent apartment within a retirement complex, where she continued to paint. She died on December 23, 2018 at age 88. Her remains are buried with her parents at Stanley Cemetery in Amherst, Nebraska.

Marilyn established an art purchase endowment at the Museum of Nebraska Art in 1996, and the Marilyn F. Belschner Arts Endowment Fund has and will continue to perpetuate her legacy.

The Museum of Nebraska Art has three works by Marilyn Belschner.


Marilyn Blechner, Portrait of Tom, pastel