May 7, 2002
Serving Western Deschutes County
Sisters, Oregon

Staying married in America
By Conrad Weiler

Robert Fass engaged an interested audience at a Sisters COCC Lunch and Learn.

There is something fundamentally mysterious about long-lived marriages, according to artist Robert Fass. 

Fass, an Artist in Residence at Camp Caldera west of Sisters, is studying long-married couples in America using interviews and pictures to capture their relationships. Fass shared his work with a Lunch and Learn audience at Sisters College Center.

Fass' project started when he took pictures of his parents on a vacation in West Virginia. They had been married 47 years and it was shortly before his father's death. 

Other couples, seeing these pictures, asked Fass to photograph them. It occurred to him that there was a wonderful story in the making.

The project has taken Fass from the east coast to Hawaii over the last six years. To date, he has interviewed about 20 couples with differing ideas on why their marriages lasted so long. 

The marriages are not all blissful. Some of the couples have medical problems. Some of the marriages had a long courtship; some were a bolt out of the blue, said Fass.

Bernie and Honey, artists from the Bronx, are a favorite among Fass' collection. They are pictured touching forehead to forehead with Bernie's arm gently, protectively, around Honey's shoulder. 

"What makes people get negative about each other, particularly after years of marriage, and having a family, and kids, I don't know," states Bernie in the Fass interview. "Maybe I find it difficult to understand because it hasn't happened to us. Because we always manage to be on the same track, and whatever small things come along, we settle."

Fass acknowledged that really long marriages are becoming more rare as society changes.

"Times are different," he said. "I am documenting something that may be dwindling."

Fass hopes to publish a book. His present work may be viewed at his website:

© 2002 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon.  All rights reserved.