Monday, October 31, 2016

Farewell to a Wonderful Artist and Friend

I am so sad to share these news. Our friend and the co-founder of this group, Karen Zullo Sherr, passed away this morning at her home in Berkeley from a long-term illness. Her funeral, I have learned through Facebook, will be this Thursday, November 3rd at noon, the Mountainview Cemetery at the end of Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, in the Jewish section which is located to the West side as you enter the gate.
Photo of Karen Zullo Sherr two years before she passed.
Photo by Patricia Zambryski
For those of you who joined this group recently and did not have the chance to meet her in person, Karen was a tireless leader in our East Bay artist communities. I only know of the artistic achievements she completed after she retired from her profession as a social worker, so I will just name a few.

Not only did she co-found the East Bay Landscape Painters and the East Bay Figure painters groups, she remained their leader over the next nine years. Even after her husband David became ill, she continued to be actively involved in the two groups. She mentored many of us, made sure everybody got along and sought jobs, commissions and exhibition opportunities for the artists she met in these groups. Under her guidance, a support group for women artists who returned to art after another career saw its beginnings.

Karen also collaborated with Tom Franco to transform the Firehouse from a multi-use studio space to the great gallery it is today. She co-curated several fabulous shows with Sue Steel of Mythos Gallery, most notably the Beauty as Fierce as Stars, an exhibition about abstract women painters of the 1950s. The openings to those shows were always packed.

In keeping with the community-oriented artist that she is, I invite the plein air and figure drawing artist community to save their pictures, anecdotes and stories about Karen. I will consult with the other artists who are close to her and will find out what can be done to honor her memory.