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merry renk and Marbeth Schon
  San Francisco, 2006


merry renk

1921 - 2012



It is very difficult to realize that the bright light that was merry renk has gone out.   She lived life to its fullest and, though her path was not always an easy one, she kept on working—always embracing the next artistic challenge—never being afraid to experiment.

My first personal contact with merry was in 2003 when I wrote to ask her for pictures of her jewelry for my first book, Modernist Jewelry, 1930 – 1960, The Wearable Art Movement.  She was helpful and gracious, sending many photographs of her work and early pictures of herself wearing some of her designs.  We corresponded frequently after that and she was a part of my second project, the 2008 exhibit American Modernist Jewelry, 1940 – 1960 at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and its corresponding book.  Though she was having serious problems with her knees at the time, merry flew from San Francisco to Fort Wayne for the opening.  While walking to the museum from our hotel, she  was thrilled to see a photograph of her necklace, “In the Sky,” on a huge banner hanging on an outside wall of the museum.

I think of merry as “the joyful jeweler” and she liked that label.  Many of her pieces, such as her atoms earrings or her sparkles brooches, seem to “burst forth” from some central force,   Other interlocking pieces "fly" or "soar" in space.  We are fortunate that she left us so many beautifully designed pieces of jewelry to study and enjoy.  Numerous examples of her work are now in museum collections.

Her indefatigable perseverance coupled with exceptional artistic talent and skill brought merry life-long success.

We will miss her! 

Marbeth Schon

I was fortunate to meet merry and to spend a day with her while she showed me photos (and drawings and watercolors) of her travels with her husband and of course her work. She talked excitedly about studying in Chicago and opening the first gallery for non-objective art in Chicago and about her newest project "jewelers tattoos". The day she welcomed me she was also taking care of her husband who was ill and babysitting her granddaughter and she was in her 80s. She was a gentle soul and when she flew to Fort Wayne for a modernist jewelry exhibit she was eager to see the exhibit and friends that she had not seen in years. It was an honor to have met her.

Fred Doloresco

A great loss to the Modernist world and all those influenced by her work.

Fred Zweig
I met merry, along with Marbeth and many other wonderful artists and at the American Modernist Jewelry exhibit in Fort Wayne Indiana in 2008. It was and still is the highlight of my lifelong love of collecting and learning about jewelry. merry was as generous , inspirational and gracious in person as she is in her jewelry and other artistic endeavors . She was a lovely person who will be missed by many but whose spirit will continue on through her art. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to meet her.

Karen Goodwin

I'm so sorry to hear that! I never met her so I'm afraid I have no personal recollections to share. However, I loved her jewelry! A unique vision in design!

Patrick Kapty
This is very sad news, but, merry left us with so much! Meeting merry at Marbeth's show in Fort Wayne is an event I'll never forget. She was wonderful, and absolute delight. I'll always cherish that time and her autograph.

Heidi Abrahamson


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Modern Silver magazine 2012