Mary Karam is a prominent photographer, artist and owner of Mary Karam Art Gallery on Main St. in Denison. She has worked with the Denison Art District, participated in many local art events and always has an encouraging smile and helping hand for anyone who comes through her door. Karam host annual shows open to the public for new and experienced artist to join. She works closely with local college art departments and has a wide variety of art in her gallery that is ever evolving. The changes that Mary Karam has gone through prove she is a force of nature.
Mary Karam was born in Ann Arbor MI and was only three when her whole family moved to California. “My dad had lost his job because of the war and one of my sisters had had 2 bouts of pneumonia so we went where there were more jobs and a healthier climate.” says Karam
She traveled with her grandparents by train while her two sisters and parents drove my grandparents 1940 Ford. They lived with relatives until her dad found a job working for a fellow who took care of orange groves. They moved into an old mission-style house between Fullerton and Anaheim on an orange grove under his care and lived there for the next 14 years.
“It was like growing up on a farm with horses, lots of cats, chickens plus all the oranges you could eat!”
Mary received her first camera when she was about 7 years old, an Ansco box camera.
“I remember taking a family road trip to Arizona. We each had a camera. I still have the pictures I took at the Petrified Forest, the Great Meteor Crater and other sites. About 40 years later I decided I really wanted to learn how to use a big camera so I bought a 35 mm Pentax and signed up for a commercial B&W photography course the same day.” adds Karam
She loved working in the dark room and found it a break from her graduate studies for a MS in Mathematics. By the end of her second semester, she was already doing copy work, studio work and shooting weddings for friends and relatives.
Mary has had some formal training in the arts but most has been hands on. While living in Japan, she studied sumiť painting (art done in monochrome with sumiť ink on handmade paper) for 2 years. She has taken numerous ceramics classes at the beginning and intermediate level. “My favorite and best work was during 3 trips to the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico where I took 3 workshops in pit-firing, wheel work with Crystalline glazes and Raku firing.” says Karam
Mary Karam had lived in Pottsboro since 1997 and after her divorce she didn’t want to leave the area. She never dreamed she would have a gallery. She planned to pursue her photography and pottery/ceramics work. She enjoyed the thought of living in a loft with a studio downstairs, especially forgoing the yard work. However the ceramics never happened so she sold her kiln and the wheel and opened her gallery in April of 2005
Through her years in Texoma she has seen great changes and is very pleased to see more younger artists involved with the Texoma Art Community on all levels. While there are fewer galleries and studios than there were ten years ago she believes there is more focus on all of the arts now with more festivals and lot more focus on public art such as sculptures, murals and selfie stations.
“It is great that Sherman has joined Denison in becoming a Cultural Arts District. Having 2 Cultural Art Districts in the Texoma area is a real plus for everyone! I look forward to more art events and more art integrated into existing events.” adds Karam
She has found a great love in her community while taking in the moments it has offered her, from expanding the Denison Arts & Wine Renaissance events, to taking the first pictures at Dancing and Singing with Starts as well as being one of the grandmothers in Denison Dance Academy’s first Nutcracker at Kidd-Key Auditorium.
“I absolutely love everything about the Dia de Muertos Festival. Helping to initiate this event was perhaps one of the most exciting things I have ever done in my life. I have always loved parades, but until I came to Denison, I had never been in one. One highlight was the first year when our boom box didn’t work and the mariachis played La Bomba for our Texoma Art Tart group to dance to all the way down Main Street.” says Karam.
For all the gains there’s never enough art for Mary Karam. “I always want more…. more galleries, more artists, more people visiting from out of town, more diversity in the art exhibits and murals. I would love to see more metal sculpture work with welding classes for artists at Grayson College, maybe even a foundry. I would love to see an art museum that houses some of the notable art done by our local artists, past and present.”
Her personal artistic goals are also never ending. She has always told herself that would start painting when she is 80. Not far off for her she agreed to participate in Sherman’s Art Dash, delivering a 5x5 painting to their event.
“That was a lot of fun. I don’t know what media I will pursue but I definitely plan to have some creative fun with paint. I plan to participate in most of the monthly workshops that we have planned here at the Gallery. My natural curiosity will still drive my passion to explore and create photographic art in areas yet imagined.” adds Karam
“All of the cultural arts enhance and enrich our lives while improving our environment. Lives based on creativity are lives well lived! The importance of art in our Texoma Community is becoming more and more visible every day in the form of public art plus the integration of art into more accessible exhibits in public buildings like Denison Arts Council’s “Art in the Hall” in Denison City Hall and the Sherman Art Council’s “Art Dash”, says Karam,” I will always be an art activist. I want everyone to follow their passion. Don’t make excuses or put it off. Put something in your day every day that you love and feel passionate about. This is not a dress rehearsal. If not now, when?”
For more art news, visit http://www.HeraldDemocrat.com/art.