Photography by Cheryl Richards
Karen stands out in a crowd. You’ll see her across a crowded room with her perfectly coiffed hair that has been her signature for decades – same style, cut, and color – platinum. Dressed elegantly at every occasion, you are immediately drawn to what she chose to accessorize her outfit with this time. More than likely you have never seen anything like it before. “I’ve always had an interest in craft jewelry.” She curates her wardrobe and chooses each piece of jewelry carefully for each ensemble. One is a necklace of oversized silver balls of varying size that were once roller balls inside roll-on deodorants! The roller ball necklace comes from the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. Each piece has a story. Each one is a show-stopper. She describes her own style as “simple, but striking, with an emphasis on shape and adornment.” She most admires Armani as he “provides a beautiful canvas for art jewelry.” “Adornment gives clothing a signature look.”
“I’ve never followed.”
Karen and her husband are collectors: furniture, art, teapots, craft jewelry. They collect. When they were first married their love of travel took them to Mexico and Latin America. Intrigued by the art and craftsmanship coming from Mexico, they began importing hand carved Mexican furniture and fine traditional handcrafts from Latin America. Karen founded Alianza in the 1960’s. It was a contemporary craft gallery and landmark boutique on Newbury Street for forty years. Later, there was a renewed appreciation for U.S. handmade crafts and Karen embraced this 'revolution'. Alianza became a gallery of contemporary American Crafts, specializing in art glass ceramics and designer jewelry. Karen follows her own advice: “If an opportunity presents itself, do it now!” How to stay young? “You have to be willing to try new experiences, staying positive and inquisitive keeps you young.” Karen is currently involved with Society of Arts and Crafts, Art Jewelry Forum, ICA, MFA and the Arts in Education Council at Harvard Graduate School of Education.