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A Friend Remembered – Guest Blogger Diane Reardon

December 9, 2014
Mary Ethridge

Mary Ethridge

Once upon a time there was a bunch of Tulips. Not Skagit Valley Tulips but a group of wannabe artists who ended up in an early Gail Harker 2 ½ year Design class, still in 1997 part of City and Guilds. I was one of them and so was my very good friend, Mary Ethridge. In fact if we hadn’t held hands and urged each other on, we would not have committed to this life-changing course.

In between the week-long gatherings in Coupeville with Gail, we talked all the time about the assignments, about the work we were making, about how making art could fit into our already busy lives.

Mary (r.) and Diane (l.) displaying Mary’s work

Mary (r.) and Diane (l.) displaying Mary’s work

We did finish in 1999, including the happy experience of exhibiting the work.

The Tulips continued to gather for a couple of years, and Mary and I met more regularly to work on art together in her lovely daylight basement. We egged each other on to finish artquilt pieces, promised gifts, and just playfully experiment. My first batch of hand-dyed cottons, done from a book in my garage, is still part of my stash.

"Any Which Way" by Diane Reardon

“Any Which Way” by Diane Reardon

Mary had a great eye. And a forthright style. She’d be solid in judging a piece of mine as not yet done, even though I was desperately wanting to be done with it. And she’d be right. She also knew when to cut her losses in her own work. She’d know it was time to start over if she pronounced the work “Ugh-ly!”.

She also knew what touched her and happily was drawn to a piece of mine enough to buy it (Any Which Way) .

Sadly, Mary died a year or so ago following a surgery, surrounded by family. In sorting through her workroom, her daughter returned Any Which Way to me, which has been with me daily, much like Mary’s voice in my head when I need a clear critique in the studio.

When Gwen Lowery of Seattle put out the call to support the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts and Gail’s ongoing teaching and changing lives, I knew my piece was ready to move on. Any Which Way is for sale at Gwen Lowery’s Winter Solstice Open House (benefiting the Center) in honor of Mary and what great art buddies we were. And still are. Mary’s clear-eyed view of my art is with me, and when I hear that inner voice, I pay attention.

Diane Reardon, Artist and Creativity Coach:

Diane Reardon

Diane Reardon



4 Comments leave one →
  1. pennypeters permalink
    December 9, 2014 4:41 am

    Thank you for sharing your heartfelt remembrance of Mary. I’ll look for your piece at the Winter Solstice Fundraiser at Gwen’s Studio.

  2. December 9, 2014 7:07 pm

    Thank you for telling us about your friend. So many friendships develop at Gail’s, it’s like a gathering of a creative clan. I know how hard it is to lose a friend and it’s great that you’re donating the piece to further more creative friendships!

  3. Maria Patrizzi permalink
    December 11, 2014 12:48 am

    It is so much a sisterhood, we women artists, or just even the ‘wish we were’ artists, tho they are too artists, just not confident in it. We mourn their passing and celebrate their vision, the art left but a slice of their worth.

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