Artist Mary Stahl paints open expanses and intimate scenes of nature

by Frances Freyberg on April 6, 2017

Open Spaces and Quiet Places, an exhibition of landscape paintings in pastel and oil by Mary K. Stahl, is the featured exhibit at the Portola Art Gallery in April. There will be a reception for Mary on Saturday, April 22, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

Wide open expanses, as well as small intimate scenes, are featured in this exhibit of Mary’s landscape paintings. Inspired by the play of light over the natural landscape, her quiet paintings offer the viewer a welcomed respite from the daily grind.

Mary earned her B.A. in art at West Liberty State College (now University) in West Virginia. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1970’s, she taught children’s arts and crafts classes at Palo Alto’s Junior Museum and coordinated the children’s noontime art studio at Fairmeadow Elementary School in Palo Alto. She also worked as a special education aide, helping handicapped children learn through art-making.

Taking a lengthy detour from the art/education world, Mary joined SRI International and eventually became the manager of Internet host and domain registrations at the ARPA/DDN Network Information Center. She worked for several years at NASA Ames on the NASA Network Information Center project, and at Nominum in Redwood City doing technical documentation, web design and graphic design, before finally returning to fine art.

Mary explains her journey: “At SRI, I managed databases and domain registrations and did technical writing and editing. In fact, [Internet pioneer] Jake Feinler was my boss most of the time I worked there at the Network Information Center.

“I sort of burned out after 13 years at SRI, priimarily because I was neglecting my artistic-creative side. It wasn’t until after I left SRI — while I was at NASA Ames — that I got back into painting. I guess you could say all that technical stuff propelled me back to doing art, and that’s how one influenced the other.”

Mary is a signature member of the Pastel Society of the West Coast, and her work has been displayed at the Haggin Museum in Stockton, the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, and the Butler Museum of Art in Youngstown, OH. She has participated in several plein air painting events, including the prestigious Carmel Art Festival, where she was presented with the Emerging Artist award in 2011.

The Portola Art Gallery is located at the Allied Arts, 75 Arbor Road, in Menlo Park

“Point Lobos, Sunset” (12×18″, pastel) is one of the featured artworks in Mary K. Stahl’s April exhibit, “Open Spaces and Quiet Places,” at the Portola Art Gallery.

Photo of Mary by Frances Freyberg

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