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White Plains Native Makes Painting Debut at Sam's

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Writer and photographer Mary Ann Balco Berry grew entranced by many of her artist friends and decided to pick up a brush about two years ago. Now, the White Plains native is set to debut her first painting exhibit at Sam's of Gedney Way Saturday.

"I had a lot of friends who were artists and I was involved in art. One day I said, 'I can do that' and went out and bought a couple of acrylic paints," said Berry, who voluntarily helps out with photos, press and marketing at the Academy of Our Lady of Good Counsel. "I was just out to have fun. I wasn't trying to be Rembrandt or anything."

Berry said her first paintings depicted memories such as the blizzard of 1947 on paper. She then graduated to canvases, but continued to depict memories or scenes that stuck with her.

"I put my friends into everything," said Berry, who grew up on S. Lexington Avenue, lived in Irvington, briefly moved to New Jersey, and then returned to White Plains. "They just kind of come to me.’Cerwidden by the Sea' happened when my friend sent me -- she sends me the most incredible cards -- a card with six women all in white on the sea shore."

The beach revelers playing a hand game were transformed into angels, mermaids, hula dancers and bathers afloat in a bathtub on the sea. Other paintings set to be unveiled at the gallery opening Saturday at 3:30 p.m. include scenes of one of Berry's landmark birthday celebrations, the Mamaroneck Avenue bar strip and the Gedney Way retail and restaurant hub.

Berry's love for painting grew out of her photography experience. While on a trip to Paris she and a friend began snapping men and managed to capture the visiting Algerian king.

"I said, 'Let's do a photo shoot of men because everyone takes women.' I had a small photo exhibit 'Les Hommes de Paris' when I returned," said Berry, a former contributor to The White Plains Times . "Some people I just took pictures of. Some people came and asked me to take their pictures. Some stopped me."

A recent apartment move has provided Berry with a studio, which she is excited to break in. She also hopes to fine-tune and publish three books she's written.

Most paintings on display at Sam's are for sale. Contact Berry at maryann@balcoberry.com for more information.

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