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Artists Mary Kathryn Woodward & Anne Poarch

We can’t think of a better title than Choose Joy for this pair of creative friends, one a painter & one a poet, each genuinely inspired by the other & joyful living!  Join us on Thursday, October 3rd, 6pm – 8pm as we present a vibrant collection of more than 45 original paintings by Mary Kathryn paired with stirring poetry selections from Anne, along with the exciting launch of her second book of poetry, The Grit & Joy of Being. 

Read more below . . . how a mutual love of the outdoors forged a friendship & energizes these two artists to write and create.


PH: What inspired you to do a show together combining paintings & poetry?

AP: First of all, our friendship. After attending an art exhibit in which a mutual friend paired her paintings with her poems we began to discuss a collaboration. I was struck with how interactive, sensory and alive the exhibit felt with the combination. We are thrilled to introduce our latest work at Palette Home, in a show we call Choose Joy.

MKW: Anne inspires me. We both share an enormous appreciation of the natural world and although we express it through different mediums, I thought a collaboration could be intriguing and encourage both of us to push our own creativity.

PH: Tell us about your families?

MKW: I am married with three teenage children, three dogs and quite a few chickens.

AP: My children have had an enormous influence on my writing, on why I write. I am married with two amazing teenage sons, a precious pug, and a calico cat.

PH: Where did you grow up, and how has it influenced your art?

MKW: I grew up right here in Richmond. I think my love of reading as a child and my imagination were my initial drivers towards creative expression. I have always been drawn towards color, décor and fashion and home design. Later, I lived in New York City and Paris and really appreciated the tremendous art scene and culture in both of those cities.

AP: I grew up the youngest of five in a small town in North Carolina. It was a creative and musical home. My mother taught me the fine art of making a home; while my older sister was my first role model. My father and three brothers taught me how to paint, fish, and garden, to ruminate on life . . . to be outside and ramble in the woods. When my children were young I wanted to give them what I had been given, and so began some of the most treasured days of my life; walks by the James River with my sons, noticing birds and insects, picking up leaves, splashing, climbing on rocks.

PH: What energizes you most about creating?

MKW: For me it’s the range of emotions . . . I love manipulating paint colors and add layers and texture with my palette knife. There is often a panic moment in the process where it looks terrible and then such an incredible feeling when I get past that and I look at it and the painting has transformed into something I love. It’s that journey that I find exciting.

AP: Creating makes me feel like I am using the gifts God has given me. I feel free and open and light and busy! It’s as if by taking an idea I can expand on it, through poetry, or another pursuit, even in business, and end up opening a door to another path. Like I’m firing up more of my brain to openness and more creativity.

PH: What are some small things that make your day better?

MKW: Flowers, walks along the James River, seeing a blue heron, yoga, and ice cream. 

AP: Just being outside and bringing fresh flowers into the house makes my day better.

PH: Describe a compliment you received lately.

MKW: Someone recently told me my eyes almost looked like a husky. No, seriously, people tell me that my paintings and their colors make them happy. Which obviously make me very happy.

PH: Which of your scars has the best story behind it?

AP: I have a big one. The ten inch scar on my left hip was the result of a childhood surgery. A staff infection in my left hip socket was discovered when I was an infant. I was put into a full leg brace for the first 18 months of my life and had major surgery at age four. I was in a full body cast from the waist down. I started kindergarten on crutches.

MKW: I have lots of scars, but perhaps my caesarean scars from the birth of my three children have lead to better stories than I ever could have imagined.

PH: What do you wish your brain was better at doing?

MKW: Reacting more quickly.

AP: Filing, organizing my desk and the accompanying paperwork. Decluttering!

PH: Do you have a favorite “go to” drink?

AP: Very fizzy, sparkling water.

MKW: Indian River grapefruit juice and Vintage seltzer. I drink it all day, everyday.

PH: What do you consider to be your best find?

MKW: James, my greyhound.

AP: Well that probably has to be the piece of art hanging on Mary Kathryn’s wall. We were on a trip to NYC years ago walking through SOHO. I spotted a geometric painting that was fresh and bright. I loved the colors and was, typical of me, a bit undecided. Mary Kathryn said, “Well if you don’t buy it I am going to.” Unsure I pulled back. Within a week it was framed and hanging on her wall. I love seeing it there. It’s such a reminder of seizing moments.

PH: What do you wish you knew a lot more about?

MKW: Many, many things, but at this point in my life, I wish I knew more about history.

PH: As an author Anne, and a reader Mary Kathryn, what books or authors have impacted you the most?

AP: Poets Mary Oliver and Khalil Gibran. Virginia novelist Carrie Brown. Elizabeth Gilbert. Always, CS Lewis. And talented, lyrical writer Bob Deans and his book about the James River, The River Where America Began: A Journey along the James. I have found great connections to spirit and nature in their voices. Hoping to delve into Ralph Waldo Emerson soon.

MKW: Mary Oliver’s poetry, and of course, Anne Poarch’s book Flight.

PH: Are there things you still like to do the old-fashioned way?

MKW: I am still writing lots of hand-written notes.

AP: Bake a cake. Read a book. Dry clothes on a clothesline.

PH: What do you regret not starting when you were younger?

MKW: Whitewater kayaking.

PH: What is something your friends say is “so you”?

AP: I’ve had at least five people say the protaganist, Kya Clark, in Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is so me. I love the reference and am honored! She loves her natural world. She is independent, resourceful, and aware.

MKW: Anything involving the James River, or water in general. That is probably why I am drawn to paint so many waterscapes.

PH: Is there anything you’ve been meaning to try, but haven’t gotten around to it yet?

MKW: Kite Surfing.

AP: COMPOSTING and I am determined to get to it. Thanks to a close Richmond friend she has encouraged me to just get started, even if it means digging a hole in the ground!

PH: On risk, what risks do you believe are worth taking?

AP: Being comfortable with who you are at heart. Knowing yourself and then acting on it.

MKW: Almost all of them! I am a firm believer in having a growth mind-set, and I need to continually challenge myself in all sorts of areas to live my best life.

PH: You are both travelers; what’s the furthest you’ve been from home? 

AP: Australia! Our family traveled there this past spring. It was a beautiful trip.

MKW: Africa – Kenya and Sudan.

PH: When do you feel truly alive?

MKW: Probably when I am out whitewater kayaking, especially on a new river. I feel like I am firing on all cylinders when I am simply outside in nature – hiking or on the water.

AP: There is nothing more life affirming than when I am outside, and my body, mind and spirit are in sync. That’s Joy.

PH: What chance encounter changed your life forever?

AP: Meeting Mary Kathryn Woodward. This is not just a platitude for the show. Truly, if I had not met Mary Kathryn so much of my creative awakening would not have happened.

PH: What a lovely friendship & collaborative moment this is. We are honored to be a part of it, thank you both. We can’t wait for the show! 

Mary Kathryn Holden Woodward  As a native of Richmond, I have spent most of my life soaking up Virginia’s ever-changing landscapes, flowers and waters.  But probably my stint in NYC working for Ralph Lauren was the initial fodder for developing my love of color and textures as well as for sparking my creativity. After more than 20 years of painting, I think really it’s just an unabashed love of both color and my natural surroundings that inspire me to paint. Most often, my paintings are created with a palette knife and brush. Using a variety of media, I try to develop a strong contrast of vibrant, saturated colors, often in layers and with a variety of textures. Through my choices in color palette, I attempt to bring my paintings a voice that is both reflective and appealing.

Anne Poarch is a Richmond-based author and entrepreneur. This fall her opening event at Palette coincides with publication of her second book of poetry, The Grit & Joy of Being. Her first book of poetry, Flight: of butterflies and robins and other winged dreams was published in Spring 2017. Both books are by Belle Isle Books, an imprint of local publisher, Brandylane. After graduating cum laude from Wake Forest University in 1991, Anne traveled to Paris, where she worked as an au pair for the Picasso family, and attended the University of Paris, Sorbonne. After her year-long sojourn abroad, she returned to live and work in Richmond where she worked before leaving to start her own company. The same calling from which the poet emerged inspired the creator in Anne to leave a twenty-two-year career in the finacial services industry to seek a deeper connection to the beauty, spirit, and joy in natural life. Anne is the founder of Basket & Bike, a bicycle tour company offering leisurely bicycle excursions in nature; along the Virginia Capital Trail, the James River, and other locations in Virginia. More than a bike tour, Anne encourages people to connect with the land, the river, and their communities in graceful, new ways. She extends her poetic pursuits to her business through an online journal where she pauses, like in her poetry, to reflect on the intersection of the spiritual and physical.

CHOOSE JOY opens Oct 3rd, 2019 at Palette Home, 5813 Grove Avenue Richmond, VA. Original paintings by Mary Kathryn Woodward will be available for purchase in store and online, as well as signed copies of Flight and The Grit & Joy of Being by author, Anne Poarch.

Please reach us at contact@ for further questions or inquiries.




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