March 2012: La Belle, a painting by Mary Stroba
La Belle, a painting by Mary Stroba

Featured Artist: Mary Stroba

Last updated: February 29, 2012

Mary Stroba
Mary Stroba

We’ve often said that the local arts community would be in a bad way without retired people and Mary Stroba is a case in point.  Most Michiganders go south to retire, but Mary and her husband retired to the Sault in 2003, after careers in lower Michigan.  When we asked why the Sault, she explained that they had been coming up for many years to ski . . . We came for the snow, the beauty of nature and less hubbub.  Mary understands hubbub; she has lived and continues to live an active life.

Born in Frankfort, she met her husband while working as a teacher’s aide in Benzie in 1970.  Their first home was near Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, but in 1972 they bought a farm north of Honor, and Mary was kept busy with a huge garden, which provided a large part of their diet.  She also milked goats, tended chickens, rabbits and horses, and worked remodeling the 1880’s farmhouse—all the time also working as a teacher’s aide.  She gave up that job when their son was born in 1976, but continued all her other activities.  In 1978, her husband became a certified real estate appraiser/assessor and they moved—first to Big Rapids (1978); then to Stanton (1981), then to Orion Township (1986) and finally to Watervliet, where they remained until their 2003 retirement to the Sault.  Until the Sault move, each move also involved moving horses.

When her son entered high school, Mary went back to school, earning her Associate Degree from Lake Michigan College and her B.A. from Sienna Heights.  After graduation she worked  as a Head Start teacher, and as an enumerator for the 1980 Census, before studying to become a Level Two Michigan Certified Assessor.  She then worked for five years for the Berrien County Equalization Department.

And now, to the art.  While Mary has been drawing since she was very small, there were no art classes in the schools she attended, nor did her college offer a degree in Art.  She did avail herself of its art classes, and took all the humanities classes that she could, receiving her B.A. degree in general studies.  Now that she’s retired, she has the luxury of making art her passion and she says it feels good!

Mary says she’s inspired by nature and color, especially dramatic contrast.  Oil is her preferred medium because it’s permanent and rich in color, but she also works in pencil, pen and ink and colored pencil.  While most of her paintings to date have been realistic, she is beginning to venture into surrealism and cites an exciting red farm scene that she is currently working on.  She plans to enter the April juried show and has a show of her own slated for the Alberta House Mini Gallery in July.

Mary is an active member of the Le Sault Artists Guild, helped manage the kids’ art tent in the 2010 Sault Summer Arts Festival, and was an exhibitor in the 2011 Sault Summer Arts Festival.  She is one of the artists painting bags for the shop, and you’ll probably see her when you’re in Alberta House, because she is a frequent volunteer.  She is also beginning to work with the Gallery hanging crew.  Which all goes to show that “retirement” is a very misleading term.  With Mary, as with so many other artists, it represents a change and an opportunity, but has nothing to do with “retiring!”

Works by Mary Stroba
Click to see a larger version.

Woodland Path, painting by Mary Stroba

Woodland Path

White Rose Inn, painting by Mary Stroba

White Rose Inn

La Belle, painting by Mary Stroba

La Belle

Stone Wall, painting by Mary Stroba

Stone Wall

Lower Falls, painting by Mary Stroba

Lower Falls

Sault Area Arts Council Home Page 217 Ferris Street, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
e-mail: Phone: (906) 635-1312