November 17, 2019

Mary Engelbreit opens exhibition in Old Webster

Famed artist Mary Engelbreit is best known for her cute and colorful greeting cards. Now, Engelbreit takes a new turn. The artist opened her exhibit, “Engeldark” last week at the Green Door Art Gallery.

Mary Engelbreit (also known as the “the Queen of Cute”) showcases her alter ego through her newest greeting card series, “Engeldark. The St. Louis-based illustrative artist, is best known for her greeting cards, calendars, children’s books and more. 

“For over 40 years, I’ve been producing cute little drawings with sweet sayings, and they’ve done very, very well,” Engelbreit said. “But I like to think of myself as a well-rounded person with many sides to my personality.”

Engelbreit’s signature style cards consists of bright, colorful drawings with inspirational messages, while her Engeldark line displays black and white illustrations filled with humorous quotes.

Engelbreit searched for galleries throughout St. Louis that she could sell her original pieces.

Mary Engelbreit’s work, “Oh, I don’t think so.”

She interviewed Green Door Art Gallery in Webster Groves to see if they would be the right fit. 

Now, it is the only gallery selling her original artwork in the United States. On Oct. 2, 2019, she opened the first Engledark art exhibit at the Green Door Art Gallery and had her opening reception on Oct. 11.

Former owner of the Green Door Art Gallery, Vic Mastis said she was surprised when the Edgledark collection was first released. 

“Her stuff has been so cheerful, bright and happy” Mastis said. “We had only four or five pieces when we first started selling her pieces, and we always sold them right away.”

The creation of Engeldark started off as a parody of the original Engelbreit line. 

Engelbreit and her co-workers made jokes for about a year.

“We came up with funny cards we never thought would be published” Engelbreit said. “I don’t know why, but suddenly we thought people were ready for them.”

Engelbreit introduced her first Engeldark card to the public three years ago.  

The card showed a ringmaster attempting to control a monkey sticking out his tongue. Underneath, it had a quote by George Carlin, “Just because the monkey is off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.” 

“Mary has a sarcastic, sometimes snarky sense of humor that has come out here and there in her work from day one,” the brand’s art director, Angel Clark, said. 

Clark has worked with the brand for over 20 years now. She began working at the Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion Magazine. After the magazine ended, Clark freelanced and then came back full-time to work in the studio. 

“Since greeting cards have always been successful for the Mary Engelbreit brand, they seemed like the most obvious place to start, so we launched the Engeldark line with fingers crossed” Clark said. “I think we were all a little nervous that people would reject this Engeldark stuff from ‘the Queen of Cute.’”

Clark’s favorite Engeldark card shows a detailed illustration of a little girl play poker with a stern face. Beneath the picture it says, “I’ll see your trainwreck of a day and I’ll raise you an unmitigated disaster.”

The gallery has now sold over 150 Mary Engelbreit original pieces all over the United States. 

“She doesn’t normally sell her originals like most artists do. She sells her originals for books, cards, and calendars.” Mastis said. 

While Engelbreit still makes her regular sweet cards, she is now able to express her “dark” side through her new collection. Viewers can experience this side at the Green Door Art Gallery in Webster Groves. There will be 22 original pieces for sale until Nov. 8.

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