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Communicating in Shape and Color


Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

“I find I can say things with color and shapes that I cannot say any other way, things I have no words for.” This observation by American painter Georgia O’Keeffe captures the spirit and the heart in which local artist and teacher Mary Wolke has approached her life with the love of art. Mary grew-up in St. Cloud, Minnesota with “the greatest hands-on Mom.” Her mom knew the value in nurturing the growing child’s sense of order, imagination, and creativity in living a full and productive life.

As Mary shares, “Our mom was always there, making homemade clay, helping her children translate their ideas into three dimensional shapes and even better yet some of that “clay” was cookie dough we could mold into shapes, bake and share with others.”

All of this was not lost on Mary, who went on to receive a BS Degree in Art Education from St. Cloud State University and a Masters in Education from Saint Mary’s College, also in Minnesota. Mary taught Art at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud to all the seventh grade and senior in high school students. Today, Mary spends her winters in Surprise, Arizona. She teaches watercolor, acrylics, and mixed media classes every Wednesday and participates in a number of exhibits with her own art, as well. During her summers in Minnesota, Mary paints and works at Crosslake Gallery, an exhibit space she opened four years ago to give 30-40 artists in the area a chance to show their work and to meet other artists.

Art has truly been Mary’s life. She enjoys the way “it allows expression of numerous emotions, and stimulates conversation between those that might not otherwise have met one another.” Personally and professionally, Mary is constantly changing and evolving in the implementation of the newest painting methods. Her expansive scope is evident, not only in her sensitively rendered dancing watercolors but also in her bold and vibrantly textured acrylics. Her mixed media pieces bring together the excitement of her unique talent for composition with bold shapes and eye-popping color and shape combinations. Mary finds attending workshops by other artists and participating in critiques sessions refreshes her own perspective on her work. In turn, she loves working with others to find their own fulfillment and means of expression through art.

Mary will be part of a local exhibit by a group of artists in November 2015 at the Holland Community Center. For more information on that exhibit and others, visit the Foothills Community Foundation’s Web site at

Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield at