Karen Foss bringing her art back to St. Louis


Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

One of the true joys of my professional career was meeting and working with Karen Foss.

To a young intern, a popular anchor can be a bit intimidating to be near, much less talk to, but Karen Foss wasn’t. When I was introduced to her, I mentioned that we had met before, and her response was, “At Gino’s on Hampton.” I was speechless.

Years later, we would work together in a special unit, creating long-form television stories. The work was wonderful, but the working “together” was even more wonderful. To this day, Foss may be the most beloved and admired news anchor to have ever worked the airwaves in St. Louis, and she has been off the air for 15 years, retiring in December of 2006.

A few months after leaving KSDK, Karen was named vice president for public relations for Ameren where she continued her career in St. Louis till retiring again in 2011 as corporate Senior Vice President for Communications. And this is when, I believe, Karen really went to work. This is when Karen found her 2nd act.

Moving to Sante Fe, New Mexico, she pursued her lifelong dream of becoming an artist and now is ready to return to St. Louis with “Moments and Memories” a show of her art that will run from December 10 through January 8th

Looking Back

“I had always enjoyed art and took as many classes as I could in high school,” said Foss, “I studied at a small fashion design school in Kansas City for a couple of years but realized there were very few fashion design jobs locally and I longed for the intellectual challenge of a real university education.”

First attending Johnson County Community College and then UMKC, Foss started out as an art student before discovering Communications, where more opportunities soon became available.

“I turned my creativity to home décor, and sewing clothes for me and my children.  Often I would take art classes here and there but could never seem to make the time for serious study. I admire those who do have demanding careers and still manage to make art – many do, but I couldn’t do it.”

Even as her broadcast career began to take shape, Foss continued to harbor her dream of becoming an artist and even an architect. “I had always hoped to return to painting in my future,” said Foss.

The Past Influencing The Now

With so many years at the forefront of broadcast news in St. Louis, it is not hard to imagine that this vast experience could not influence Karen Foss’ 2nd act.

“At first, I started out studying portrait painting and I believe that search for the ‘story behind the story’ came from my decades of journalism and my love of interviewing people, said Foss. “Although I’ve now focused more on landscape and cityscape, I’m always looking for that something that may not be visible at first glance, just as we do in journalism.”

In her painting, it may be a relationship of objects or perhaps a contrast of texture or color or just taking ‘a closer look’, but Foss says she believes art begins with the eye and how you see something.

The Art

After leaving Ameren, Foss relocated to Sante Fe, which is a well-known artist’s haven. There she was able to study with many fine artists through classes and workshops.

“I’ve been happy to find how generous they are with their knowledge and encouragement to other artists. I’ve learned something from every one of them, even though I felt more compatible with a few.”

At first, she began painting with pastels, but just last year switched to water-based oils.

“I like oils, for one thing, because they are so forgiving and I often scrape off a section of a painting I’m unhappy with and start again,” said Foss. “I like the fact they can be framed without the protection of glass or mats, making the experience of seeing the art more intimate.”

For Foss, she says she like the texture and the physicality of painting with oils. She often ends up with paint all over herself as well as the canvas. “I’m a messy artist no matter what medium I’m using!! I do also like the vibrancy of oil colors. When I hung all my paintings together, in preparation for my show, I was struck by how colorful they are as a group.”

Her Jewish Journey In Her Art

Foss converted to Judaism in the early 1980s after years of spiritual pursuit. “It was only after I moved to St. Louis that I found formal classes that could result in a conversion,” she recalled, adding that she went through the process at Central Reform Congregation.

“I find Judaism and particularly the emphasis on leading a good life in the here and now, and the concept of Tikkun Olam to be congruent with my desire to explore the world and record some of its beauty and complexity.” Painting can be a prayer of appreciation, it can be a warning, it can simply be a reminder to slow down and look around.”

In bringing her work back to St. Louis, Foss says she hopes people will see a bit of her point of view, as well as her regard and fascination with the people and the environment around us all.”Some of my paintings record just a tiny slice of life–a doorway, a dumpster, a cactus flower-they’re all about looking closely and appreciating everyday life and its simple, inherent beauty. One of my instructors told me I’m a narrative or ‘storyteller’ painter.”

That is not hard to believe at all.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

Moments and Memories”

The show “Moments and Memories” came about after a longtime St. Louis friend and fellow artist Jane Sauer introduced Foss to gallery owner Duane Reed. From there it did not take long for an exhibition of her work to come together.

The show will kick off with an artist reception on December 10, followed by a 4-week run at the Duane Reed Gallery located at 4729 McPherson Avenue St. Louis, MO 63108.


Karen Foss bringing her art back to St. Louis
Karen Foss bringing her art back to St. Louis