It was a beautiful fall day as I made my way across the street through a sea of fallen gingko leaves into the Green Door Art Gallery in Webster Groves. Inside was welcoming, simple and well thought out. I had wanted to visit the gallery for some time and just never had the opportunity. Today I made a point to stop by this gallery which is home to the works of thirty resident artists, many of them are Best of Missouri Hands members such as Julie Bell (jewelry), Diane Tessman (fiber), Vic Mastis (painting), Allison Norfleet Bruenger (jewelry), Janine Helton (painting), Rita Seif (clay), and Mary Martin (painting).
On this day I was greeted by Gena Loseto who is a watercolor artist. She had started out as a guest artist at the gallery and now works on occasion where her artwork can be seen full time as a resident artist. Part of the gallery is used to feature the work of artists and is changed out every six to eight weeks. Today a local acrylic painter, Lisa Crisman, was helping to hang several of her pieces which will be a part of the newest guest artists exhibit titled “Life in Layers”. The new exhibit will also include Leah Merriman (encaustic mixed media), Scott Clark (oil on wood), Lindsay Higa (acrylic), and Claire Hasemeier who is also a Best of Missouri Hands artist (jewelry).
Generally, an opening reception is held within 2-3 weeks of hanging the show. Life in Layers opening reception will be Friday November 15, 2019 with light refreshments 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The public is invited to come out for the reception or to visit the gallery anytime during open hours which are Wednesday – Sunday 10:00 – 5:00. The gallery is closed on Monday’s and Tuesday’s.
Helping Lisa hang her artwork that day was Mary Martin. I learned that the gallery had recently changed hands, with Mary taking over in July of this year. You could tell the decision to take on gallery ownership suited Mary well. Behind her blue rimmed glasses, I could see the excitement in her eyes as she talked about the space, the artists, workshops, and the community.
Having grown up in St. Louis, Mary attended High School in Spanish Lake which is now known as Trinity. She grew up surrounded by creativity in a very active family. Vacations included visits to state parks exploring what nature had to offer. Her dad was a engineer with a great love for gardening as a stress buster. Mom was a home maker who also shared a love of gardening, sewing and knitting. Mary credits her mom for instilling a respect for the fiber arts and now incorporates twine and other items into her paintings. As a child she still remembers a chalkboard drawing she did of Santa at the age of five. The many trips to art fairs and galleries with her parents have left a meaningful impact on how Mary views the world today.
Working her entire life as a Physical Therapist, Mary admits that she really didn’t consider herself an artists until 2013 when she had an exhibit at the Gretchen Brigham Gallery at the Union Avenue Christian Church where you can currently catch the “Who is God?” exhibit. Before that she had been taking classes with a fellow Best of Missouri Hands artist Shirley Nachtrieb for about seven years. It was Shirley who encouraged Mary to join the Best of Missouri Hands after telling her she had taught Mary everything she knew. Now Mary herself is teaching classes and workshops. She recently returned from Black Mountain in North Carolina where she taught a class on Gel Printing. Mary also offers her Gel Printing class at the gallery along with other artists who teach various other classes. You can sign up for classes at Green Door by visiting the gallery or going online www.greendoorartgallery.com
It’s easy to tell when you look at Mary’s work, that she is influenced by nature. One of her favorite pieces hangs in the gallery, titled “Prairie Flower Melody”. The painting is of a green field filled with pink wildflowers and one tiny, single yellow flower. Mary had permission from a friend of hers, Dave Adams, to paint from a photo he had taken. In the meantime, she had been asked several times to exhibit at a gallery. It took three years before Mary would say yes. It is then that she did a side by side exhibit with Dave, where his photos hung next to Mary’s interpretation of his work. It was not until the exhibit that Dave noticed the yellow flower that had been in his photo all along.
In looking closely at Mary’s paintings, you will notice an abundance of texture which really adds a dimension that helps bring the painting to life. Mary starts by painting on a special tissue paper. It takes time and an understanding of how the grain of the paper will affect the painting to make this technique work. Using transparent paints Mary often incorporates old sheet music from church, twine and other materials to help convey her message of peace and joy.
When Mary is not at the gallery or working on her latest painting, she enjoys singing in her church choir where she is a cantor. She is also following in her parent’s footsteps and considers herself a wanna be gardener and dreams of vacationing in Italy. You can follow Mary on Instagram and Facebook as Mary Martin Art Studio ( www.marymartinartstudio.com ) and you can keep up with the gallery on both platforms too, as Green Door Art Gallery.