Mary Engelbreit's remarkable art career has spanned 40 years. Her new exhibit at the St. Louis Public Library Schlafly Branch is a walk down memory lane.

“It’s quite the journey into the past,” she said.

The exhibit is called Mary Engelbreit: From the Archives. It features rarely seen artwork she did for shows at Left Bank Books.

“I used to have a show there every year for many years.” Mary said.

Left Bank Books Co-owner Kris Keindienst remembers Mary before she was well known.

Kris said, “The first show we did with Mary was in 1979. She did these wonderful drawings, illustrated greeting cards, and we convinced her to have a show at our store and the rest was history because obviously that was a very good idea.”

Those shows helped get her discovered.

“They let me show there before I really had done anything. And the shows at Left Bank brought a lot of attention to my work,” said Mary.

So when Left Bank Books asked her to put together a special exhibit, as part of the first ever Book Fest St. Louis, Mary was honored.

“I have never done a show like this,” said Mary.

“Pieces from private collections from 10-15 years of work,” Kris said.

While some of this art has rarely been seen, this one is one of her most recognizable. Here's how that cute image “Life is just a chair of bowlies” came to be.

Mary said, “I was with an old boyfriend at his house and his father was yelling at this older brother about something and he said, ‘You know, life is not a chair of bowlies.’ And of course he meant to say a bowl of cherries but it stuck with me and I stole it and we're still publishing it.”

As for Mary, whose celebrating 40 years in the business and has an art studio in the Central West End, she's not putting down the pencils anytime soon.

She said, “I don’t see ever stopping. I’ll do it as long as I can.”

Mary Engelbreit: From the Archives is on display at the St. Louis Public Library Schlafly Branch in the Central West End through September 29th.
There will be a chance to meet Mary in person and ask her questions on September 21st from 6-8:30 PM.
Bookfest St. Louis takes place September 23rd throughout the Central West End.
More information can found at bookfeststl.com.