Farewell To A Wonderful Painter and Friend

I am so sad to share these news. Our friend and the co-founder of this group, Karen Zullo Sherr, passed away the morning of October 31st, at her home in Berkeley, from a long-term illness. Her well-attended funeral was on Thursday, November 3rd at noon, at the Mountainview Cemetery at the end of Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. She is buried together with her husband David in the Jewish section, which is located to the West side as you enter the gate.

For those of you who joined this group recently and did not have the chance to meet her in person, Karen was a tireless leader in our East Bay artist communities.
Photo by Patricia Zambryski
I only know of the artistic achievements she completed after she retired from her profession as a social worker, so I will just name a few.

Not only did she co-found the East Bay Landscape Painters and the East Bay Figure painters groups, she remained their leader over the next nine years. Even after her husband David became ill, she continued to be actively involved in the two groups. She mentored many of us, made sure everybody got along and sought jobs, commissions and exhibition opportunities for the artists she met in these groups. Under her guidance, a support group for women artists who returned to art after another career saw its beginnings.

Karen also collaborated with Tom Franco to transform the Firehouse from a multi-use studio space to the great gallery it is today. She co-curated several fabulous shows with Sue Steel of Mythos Gallery, most notably Beauty as Fierce as Stars, an exhibition about abstract women painters of the 1950s. The openings to those shows were always packed.

In keeping with the community-oriented artist that she is, I invite the plein air and figure drawing artist community to save their pictures, anecdotes and stories about Karen. After consulting with the other artists who were close to her I learned that next January there will be a show and a memorial to keep her memory alive. We will post the details on the figure painting and landscape painting group lists.


  1. Thank you so much for honoring her. I am grateful for the times I painted with the group when she was co-ordinator and she always made me feel so welcome.

  2. Karen is missed and loved by many. I have known her and David the past year and a half as one of her caregivers and I was blessed by her presence as an Artist. My mom was an Artist like Karen so we had much to talk about. She became like mu Auntie.