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Karen Tuveson Celebrates the Power and Magic of Nature

By Barbara A. Preston l April 27, 2021


Karen Tuveson joined Montgomery’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) this year as a way to promote local artists. “I wanted to do something for my community,” she says. “I have a lot of business experience.”


She visited the Montgomery Township website and found a section calling for volunteers. The volunteer positions they had available were for the EDC or for the town recreation committee. “I figured I was trying to grow my business as an artist, so I applied to be a member of the EDC. And then the mayor called me.”

Artist Karen Tuveson with her beloved trees in the Sourland Mountain Preserve.

There is nothing for artists in Montgomery, she told former Mayor Sadaf Jaffer, and said she wanted to help promote art in the community. When she first moved to Montgomery, Tuveson said she called the Princeton Arts Council and was told there are “way more artists living in Montgomery than there are in Princeton.” “I wanted to know where artists exhibit their work, and where we hang out,” she says. “I was told, not Princeton, because it’s too expensive to live there.”


Tuveson pointed out that it is very expensive to live in Montgomery too. “Ironically, we are in the middle of a very affluent, art-consumer type environment, and we have no presence here,” she says. Galleries do not survive in Princeton. And, Montgomery has no galleries either.

Up in the Sky: Oil on canvas, 40” x 60”

The closest galleries are in Hopewell Borough, and then the Delaware River towns of Lambertville, New Hope, Stockton, Frenchtown, and Milford. Even those places are becoming commercialized and too expensive for artists. Princeton does, however, have “pop-up” galleries in what would otherwise be empty storefronts.


Tuveson, 53, lives in Montgomery with her husband, David DiNino, who is an account executive for a hospital linen supply company called Unitex Textile. Their daughter Samantha “Sam” is a freshman at Stuart Country Day School in Princeton.


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An artist with a business perspective Tuveson grew up in a remarkable family in Manchester, Michigan. Her father, Gordon Tuveson, was a civil engineer who specialized in fitting nuclear power plants. He was also a musician, and a drummer in the Navy drum corp. Her mother, Marcella “Marce,” raised five children and made clothing for the kids, all while she attended night school to earn her MBA. Then, at age 50, her mother returned to college to earn a nursing degree. “She was like, I’m going to (John) Hopkins to get my nursing degree,” Tuveson says. “When she graduated, everybody in the auditorium stood up.”

Princeton Tree I: limited-edition B&W prints

While both her parents were “makers,” (their motto was “why buy it if you can make it?”) they did not want their daughter to be an artist. They wanted her to be an English teacher. “One of the biggest things artists struggle with is being told, from the get go, that you are not going to make it,” Tuveson says. “My parents did not want me to do this. Pretty much, most of my life, it was like, ‘You are going to starve, you are going to be broke and homeless, or you are going to be a drug addict.” This did not deter Tuveson. She graduated from Western Michigan University in 1988 with a degree in art.


There were times when she has worked as a bartender in the evening while she worked on her art by day. Her work was featured in The Anchorage Press, and the front page of The Boston Globe Sunday Arts. “For years and years, I painted and showed in galleries, “she said. “Then I stepped away and went to the corporate world, where I ended up in sales.” She worked for the Leegis Group, a general construction company that provides a variety of construction services to clients in New Jersey and New York. The company builds hospitals, private schools, manufacturing /warehouse plants, and cultural and commercial facilities.


While doing her corporate job, she says all along that she would say to herself, “this is what I’ve got to do with my art!” “Nobody tells you that in art school,” she adds, noting they just send artists out into the world. Some art schools now also teach artists to be self sustaining, or offer “entrepreneurship” classes. “It’s something a lot of artists struggle with,” she says, “especially artists who are my age.”

Locarno Swamp Grass: Oil on canvas, 40” x 60”

Moving forward After a 20-year stretch in the corporate market, Tuveson has changed focus. She now identifies as a “sustainable artist.” She uses her skills to build a creative enterprise by combining her business and artistic skills to help others. “Today, I collaborate with clients to create custom artwork that enriches their home and office environments,” she says. “Through an individualized Discovery Process, projects are developed based on a client’s story of the nourishment and energy they find in nature. She also is currently searching for sustainable companies and supply chains for all her studio tools and materials.


See her website & blog for updated information on her progress. www.karentuveson.com


Calling Montgomery & Rocky Hill Artists


Artists interested in joining Karen Tuveson’s economic development initiative should email her at karen@karentuveson.com.