She signs her emails with the title "Art Enthusiast!" and that she is!
It wasn't until a mid-life realization in about 2003 that she discovered she even had an interest in art. With a degree in early-childhood education and experience booking travel and selling memberships for the Evergreen and Women's Chambers of Commerce, Karen happened across a gathering of supporters of Art for the Mountain Community (AMC) celebrating its latest purchased sculpture. That led to an invitation to sit on the board.
Her leaving the Women's Chamber coincided with her ascending to the presidency of AMC. She turned her new-found passion for art into a full-time avocation, giving it the same gusto she'd given her jobs, often logging 12-hour days as the unpaid leader of the nonprofit organization. This is her ninth and final year on the AMC board because of term limits; she served as president for four years.
She provided the leadership to transform AMC from an organization dedicated solely to placing art in public places into one that also provided programs for the public. Although AMC had a "Sculpture Walk" in place, she developed tours and educational programs with schools, service clubs, and other nonprofit organizations such as the Seniors' Resource Center and the Aktion Club for adults with disabilities. She applied for grants to make these programs possible. In addition, she teaches Crazy Day at EPRD's Summer Camp.
Brown bag luncheons are an example of the collaborative programs she put together with Center for the Arts Evergreen (CAE). Bus tours of the Sculpture Walk and tours of Denver-area art museums are other examples, collaborating with CAE and the Evergreen Park and Recreation District (EPRD).
She personally goes into the schools when fifth graders study sculpture, discussing materials used, emotions conveyed, and why an artist might have chosen a specific medium for his or her work. In addition to talking about the Sculpture Walk and taking the students on tour of the 40+ pieces of sculpture throughout Evergreen, she sometimes involves the kids in the cleaning of sculptures. Artists who sell the artwork or allow Evergreen to display it for a year at a time also provide information about how best to take care of it. During good weather you might catch Karen supervising youngsters cleaning crevices and polishing curves of marble, metal, or whatever materials might have been used. She rewards them with ice cream socials to ensure the learning is fun.
Karen also was instrumental in seeing that artists are given a stipend for transporting their works of art on loan to Evergreen and picking them up again at the end of the 12-month period.
Beyond Evergreen, she teaches art appreciation at OLLI, the Oshier Lifelong Learning Institute for seniors over 55 who wish to pursue their interest in specific subjects without the competitive environment of a college. The program, presented on three campuses, is sponsored by the University of Denver. She's developed curricula for the Group of Seven (Canadian artists), Museum Moments (Denver museums), and Colorado Women Artists of the 20th Century. Researching the artists taps into her love for reading biographies.
Karen does everything with exuberance, and hundreds in the area – perhaps thousands – have benefitted from her fervor for sharing her love of art whether they've met her or not.
Karen and her husband, Carl, live in Genesee.