Karen Lee Dunn


Art school was not considered an option for me.  It was not a viable career that would lead me down the path of financial independence.  In spite of not being able to attend art school, I had just enough exposure through my wonderful high school course in art and art history to know that art would always be close to my heart and part of my life in some capacity.

So, I got a degree in retail merchandising, and chose the fashion industry, aka the rag trade back in the 60’s.  It was young and creative and exciting and I fell in love with it…but then one fine day, one of my roommates and I decided to visit Mexico.

So I then fell in love with all things Mexican, including my husband, so moved in bag and baggage to a lovely little apartment in the Colonia Condesa in Mexico City.  I spent many hours drawing and painting on every surface imaginable, so stimulated by all the sights and sounds and colors.

We decided to take a trip to New York back in the 70’s.  There was an outstanding exhibition of Impressionist paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was the first time I had come face to face with original art of this caliber.  It took my breath away.

So life went on.  Over 38 years, I raised a family.  I kept drawing.  I started doing illustration.  Posters for the American community Annual Art Fair.  Newspaper illustration.  Cookbook illustration.  This type of volunteer work for the Jr. League and other organizations led to an offer to do professional illustration for advertising agencies for clients such as Bacardi, L’Oreal, etc.  Soon I was hired as assistant art director at a small agency in Mexico City, and then was hired by McCann Erickson Mexico.  After awhile, I moved over to the executive side of the business and remained there for 25 years, retiring in 2007.  I exhibited my work in charcoal, pastel and sepia at the American School Art Fair for 4 years, but it was a hobby I didn’t have much time for.

Finally.  San Miguel de Allende.  Finally having the courage to pick up a brush and a tube of Oil Paint.  My two kids were in the states, all grown up.  I was a widow.  I finally had time for myself.  I went strait to Belles Artes where I studied painting with Carmen Jimenez for a year, beginning in 2008.  Then I discovered Tom and Donna Dickson, and studied with Donna for five years.  Painting was my passion from the first time I picked up a brush.

Susan Santiago, owner of Galeria San Francisco, was painting along side me in Donna’s class.  When Donna and Tom decided to leave the gallery space and moved to Puerto Vallarta, Susan decided to take over the space and open her own gallery and school.  She convinced me to join her, and I have been showing both in the Centro Gallery as well as at our Annex Gallery at the Fabrica de la Aurora ever since.

The streets of San Miguel are a constant inspiration.  A painter’s paradise I am lucky enough to live in and enjoy every day.  I continue to grow and evolve and learn as a painter and as a human being.  It doesn’t get much better than this.