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June 2015 Artist Profile: Ken Tesoriere and Mary Ellen Palmeri

Artistic Soul Mates

By Liam Lai-Fu

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Ken Tesoriere and Mary Ellen Palmeri

Twenty-one years ago Ken Tesoriere and Mary Ellen Palmeri founded Lyric Arts to promote their various arts. Their work includes painting as well as origami (paper folding), pop-up books and artist's books made by using collage, paint, drawing and hand embossing. They also bring Masters Degrees and decades of experience to teaching art workshops and moderating Lyric Arts Folding Fest, a free monthly local origami club that explores all aspects of paper folding. Both native New Yorkers, in 1994 they moved back from Europe to Tucson, for the pure quality of light, open spaces, and the many other special qualities of living in the Southwest.

As a painter, Mr. Tesoriere is renowned for his evocative abstract works and simplified expressionistic line imagery. "For me," he says, "no, for both of us, making art is invigorating and as necessary as oxygen. My personal interest is capturing and revealing passionate visual energy in my paintings."

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Ken Tesoriere Wire Dancer

His art appears on magazine and music album covers, in major national publications and local magazines such as The Tucson Weekly, Marana News, Gladden Farms Living Magazine, etc. His art is in corporate and private collections in Tucson, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Paris, Barcelona, and Berlin.

Equally renowned as a playwright, theater director and national magazine writer, Mr. Tesoriere has received over a dozen regional and national awards, including a theater nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

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Mary Ellen Palmeri Hummers Delight

Likewise, Mary Ellen Palmeri is a recognized Master in the Paper Arts, especially for her "Paper Dream Paintings" series. She creates these unique mixed-media pictorials by combining Western art methods with Asian paper techniques."Since a child, I was naturally drawn to being an artist. Creating absorbs me like nothing else. While I'm making art the rest of the world melts away. I don't actively think about it, it simply brings me complete inner peace." Her original handmade arts earn awards and are in special collections. For example, in 1995 for the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima Atomic bombing, she brought together Tucson volunteers who, over a 3-month span, folded 1000 traditional origami cranes that symbolize peace. She then sent them to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, where they earned a central place of honor for being the only ones sent in, worldwide, completed in the necessary traditional way.

Locally her specialty pop-up book, "Rosie's Night Fears", was purchased by the University of Arizona's Special Collections Library." We feel blessed to earn our living as creators," Ms. Palmeri says, "practicing daily what we love." Mr. Tesoriere adds, " And sharing our knowledge and love of art with others through our Lyric Arts workshops."

Dozens of their works are currently on exhibit as, "Artistic Soul Mates", at Dragonfly Gallery, 146 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson (between 5th and 6th Ave. downtown), now through July 31st. For detailed information on Lyric Arts' various local workshops, or to purchase or commission art, contact Mary Ellen at 520-682-4838, or e-mail Lyric.artists@gmail.com

The following is a collection of their work that they provided so we can share with you, our readers. The images are large, so this page may take some time to load. Enjoy!

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Mary Ellen Palmeri Origami Travels 2

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Ken Tesoriere Wire Dancer

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Mary Ellen Palmeri Bountiful Harvest 2

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Ken Tesoriere Galaxy Storm


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Mary Ellen Palmeri Best of the West

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Ken Tesoriere Stolen Memories


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Mary Ellen Palmeri Cemetery Celebration

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Ken Tesoriere Rapture


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Mary Ellen Palmeri Panda Girl

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Ken Tesoriere Nola


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Mary Ellen Palmeri Desert Sunrise

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Ken Tesoriere Poppy