In memoriam: Mary K. (Polly) Addison (1935-2021)

Local artist supported the Dairy from the beginning

"Holding You"

Polly Addison, local artist, CU Boulder alumna and namesake of one of the Dairy Art Center’s galleries, died on Jan. 11. 

Addison was involved with the Dairy since it formed in 1992, helping with fundraisers, working on the visual arts committee and serving on the board. 

“A few months into our board term, I found Polly outside the Dairy picking up cigarette butts and other trash,” Deborah Malden, who served with Addison on the board, wrote in a statement for the 2019 exhibit The Unknown Polly Addison. “I asked Polly what she was doing. After all, the Dairy had paid staff who surely could help keep the place clean. Polly shared that, ‘If board members failed to treat the Dairy as we would our own homes, how could we expect the rest of the community to support it?’” 

When the Dairy had trouble paying a bill in the early days, visual arts curator Jessica Kooiman Parker says Addison stepped in to pay.

“She was known for things like that,” Kooiman Parker told Boulder Weekly in 2019.  

Addison curated what was likely the Dairy’s first exhibition of “new media art” in the early 2000s.

“Some of the shows she curated were really cutting edge,” Kooiman Parker told BW. “Net Art was all based on work created about the internet, and this was in 2003, fairly early for technological art to be highlighted. I think that’s really telling about her and her character and how contemporary she was.” 

Addison’s own work ranged from hyper-realistic pen and ink drawings to whimsical oil paintings and pastel studies that highlight the artist’s technical proficiency across a range of media. Her art often captured familial bonds and histories in unexpected, thought-provoking ways. 

To read more about the life and work of Polly Addison, revisit the BW article detailing the 2019 show in her honor (Arts & Culture, “The name on the wall,” June 6, 2019), and visit the Dairy’s website:

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