Born into a very musical family in southeast Missouri, I was shuttled with my siblings to piano lessons every week. It took six years for everyone to realize piano was not my forte; as soon as music lessons stopped, I began to paint, and I have painted my life long. I’ve named my corporation ARTSONG, for vibrant color is the instrument I was destined to play and my artwork is the song I sing.
I attended Southeast Missouri State University as an art major, and in 1972 I spent a year living in Stuttgart, Germany, where the Bavarian countryside afforded much inspiration for landscape painting. The old world architecture gave ample opportunity to cement my personal pen & ink style, and I frequented museums and exhibitions of the old masters in France and Amsterdam.My art took a slower pace during the years I was raising a family. Now, in addition to thoroughly enjoying the blessing of my seven children, I have returned to my passion of painting and the culturally rich lifestyle that art allows me to live.
Vibrant color and striking light and dark contrast are prominent techniques utilized in my portraits and figures. Going beyond a portrait, I strive to convey character in a look, a glint in the eye, a mood that compels the observer to speculate about the story behind the life portrayed. While my own inspirations create a piece, I want nothing to prohibit the viewer from entering in emotionally via their own stories and experiences.
My work is strongly influences by social injustices toward women the world over. My latest series ‘The Focus is on Her’ is intended to soothe, enlighten, encourage, celebrate and ultimately champion not only female beauty, but strength, bravery, resilience, everything that oppression attempts to dominate and extinguish. The cornerstone piece in this series, “Dreams Long Denied”, features a male in muted colors with a female in full color, her flowing tresses of hair imbued with mystical starlight, which hopefully leads the viewer in limitless speculation regarding her story.
Artists strive for a painting to turn out exactly as we see it in our mind’s eye. My “mind’s eye” is more like a camera: my gaze constantly stalls for a second as the shutter clicks in my head, framing a potential painting. Now after a career and family, I return to my passion -- I feel that painting is a catalyst to bring my own world into existence, and I have so much I want to say.
Mary Berry Friedman
1967-69 Southeast Missouri State University (Major in Art)
1974 Portrait Classes with Local Artists, Bonne Terre, MO
1971 Painting and Drawing Classes with Sculptor Tom Runnels, Marble Hill, MO
Related Work History:
1974-75 Proprietor, “Cheshire Cat” Art Consignment and Studios, Bonne Terre, MO
1969-70 Engraver, American Greeting Card Company, Cape Girardeau, MO
2013 Groupe International des Artistes du Lyonnais, Lyon, France
2013 33May Juried Show, Old Orchard Gallery, Webster Groves, MO
“Frugal Can Be Fun” Booklet, Cover and Chapter Illustrations, West Cork, Ireland, 2010
Concord Magazine, Cover, September 1973
Works held in private collections in the United States, Germany, Denmark, and Ireland.
Greater St Louis Art Association, Juried Member
Best of Missouri Hands
St. Louis Watercolor Society
Missouri Watercolor Society
Best in Show, 33May Juried Show, Old Orchard Gallery, Webster Groves, MO