Detroit Lakes native living in New Mexico winning accolades for art
A Detroit Lakes native is receiving some critical acclaim for her artwork.
Janice St. Marie, a 1975 graduate of Detroit Lakes High School, currently resides in Santa Fe, N.M. Displaying her artwork in local galleries, she’s been the recent recipient of several prestigious awards.
For those who lived in Detroit Lakes in the 1970s, the St. Marie name is likely familiar.
Her father, Larry St. Marie, was a co-founder of Snappy in Detroit Lakes and served as vice president. St. Marie and her siblings, Mary Pat, Bob, Michelle, Sharon, Dan and Steve, grew up on North Shore Drive and attended Holy Rosary Catholic School before heading to the Holmes School and Detroit Lakes High School.
St. Marie’s experience with art began at a young age.
Her mother, Kathleen (Kay) Carey, noticed her daughter’s talent. She asked if St. Marie would be interested in taking art classes with local artist Linda Doebbert. In her early teens, St. Marie and several of her friends signed up.
“We’d go three days a week and paint from nine until noon,” she said of the summer classes with Doebbert. “We’d ride to her house and she’d take us off, and we’d paint old barns.
“She’s the one that started my official career,” St. Marie added. “It was three times a week, three hours a day, and I loved it.”
St. Marie’s talent propelled her through the remainder of her education in Detroit Lakes.
“In high school I was always interested in art,” she said. St. Marie also contributed artwork that was published in Detroit Lakes High School yearbooks.
After graduating from Detroit Lakes High School, she went on to major in art at the College of St. Benedict.
Senior year, she set off to study abroad in Italy for a semester. After just a few days she called home and expressed her desire to stay the entire year.
“That’s when I really felt I was going to be an artist. And Italy can do that,” St. Marie laughed and said of her time abroad.
After returning and taking several art classes at Moorhead State University, St. Marie resumed her travels.
“In a time period of about five years I was out of the country more than I was in it,” she said.
Back in the United States, St. Marie worked in a gallery, later establishing her own graphic design business in her early 20s, and illustrating several children’s books.
Initially planning to move to New York City, St. Marie said that she could feel almost immediately that the city wasn’t the right fit for her, so she packed up her car and headed west.
Inspired by one of her favorite writers and the advice of her brother, Steve, St. Marie made her way to New Mexico.
“I’d read a lot of D.H. Lawrence, and he described New Mexico in such beautiful terms,” she said. “And it’s all true. I came down here and I loved it.
“The lighting here is just crazy, it’s so pretty,” she said of her current home.
While in New Mexico, St. Marie married Joe Mowrey and worked again in graphic design.
“I always did art, but my bread and butter making money was graphic design,” she said.
In 2006, St. Marie decided to return to Italy for a month.
“I went back to visit some of those places that were special to me. I went back to Rome and Florence and Assisi,” St. Marie said. Her husband, who St. Marie credits for his support, remained in the United States to “hold down the fort.”
“I remembered again my passion for art, not that I ever really lost it, but it got renewed, and when I came back, I started painting a lot more on the weekends,” she said of the return from Italy.
“In 2009, I decided I was going to come out as an artist, and so in 2009, I had my first show at a bank and I sold I think more than half of my paintings,” St. Marie said. She has continued to appear in multiple shows each year since.
While St. Marie has experimented with a wide range of art mediums, from carving to needlework, her main focus is acrylic and pastel.
She is a member of Plein Air Painters of New Mexico and the Pastel Society of New Mexico, and St. Marie’s talents have gained recognition in several shows.
In 2012, she won the Sponsor Award for her piece Show Stopper in the Plein Air Painters of New Mexico “Art in the Parks,” event.
Her painting, A Walk in Beauty, earned a finalist position in the Richeson 75 Landscape, Seascape and Architectural Show, and her piece, Convergence, earned Best of Show in the same prestigious competition. To view the award-winning pieces, visit richeson75.com.
“I am painting what I love, which happens to be the landscapes, and I live in the perfect place for it,” St. Marie said. “I can go pretty much any direction and there are beautiful things to paint, so I’m very happy, I’d like to say,” she added.
Though St. Marie has now lived in New Mexico for longer than she lived in Detroit Lakes growing up, she said, “hometowns really stick with you.”
With roots in the lakes area and a passion for her artwork, St. Marie continues to capture the light and spirit of New Mexico in her paintings.
To view St. Marie’s artwork, check out her website at janicestmarie.com.
Libby Larson | DL Online