Catherine Karnes Munn grew up in Woodstock in a family of seven children, with one brother and six sisters. Her father owned Karnes Bakery, where Catherine worked after school. Breakfast in their household was routinely toast, toast and toast.
Sundays were special, as the family would convene at her grandfather’s house for dinner. Her grandfather noticed her passion for drawing and supported her artistic pursuits. Around the age of 7 or 8, he bought her paint from a local shop, and by the age of 10, she was attending art classes, which she greatly enjoyed. As she grew older, Catherine started earning money from her artwork, even receiving commissions for her paintings and drawings.
Before transitioning to the world of art, Catherine Karnes Munn served as an operating room nurse for over a decade. While nursing was her profession, painting was her passion. Opting to chase her artistic dreams, Catherine said goodbye to her nursing career.
Her initial artistic journey saw her hosting individual exhibitions and collaborating with other artists in shared showcases.
Catherine’s art didn’t just restrict itself to solo exhibitions; it was prominently displayed across galleries in the Maritimes and collective exhibitions at institutions like the University of New Brunswick. Furthermore, her artwork contributed to various Fredericton-based fundraisers supporting health care.
Catherine’s original pieces were so sought-after that she ventured into producing prints of her artwork to meet the escalating demand.
With themes revolving around familial traditions and historical architecture, Catherine Karnes Munn’s artwork resonated deeply with buyers. In no time, she found immense success. By 1995, Catherine had set up her own manufacturing unit, which quickly grew to employ 30 individuals. With a dedicated team of 35 sales representatives, her art found its way into over 3,000 stores across Canada and the US.
In a notable milestone, the Japanese Trade Organization selected Catherine’s art in 1994. Her participation in a Japanese trade show and the Western charm of her Anne of Green Gables series were standout features. Soon after, Catherine expanded her offerings by crafting resin models of the historical sites featured in her paintings.
In just three years, she crafted over 400 such replicas, with notable ones being Casa Loma, the Parliament Buildings, and renowned universities. Collaborating with the Newfoundland historical society, she also crafted a lighthouse series. These creations, numbering over 200,000, were sought by corporations across Canada and the US.
The sheer volume of her orders led her to outsource production to her contacts in China. Catherine’s artistic evolution also saw her introduce a line of porcelain dolls and coasters, all inspired by her paintings, produced at her Fredericton factory.
Catherine’s journey has been dotted with accolades, including the “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award for Atlantic Canada, the “Small Business Award of the Year” from Fredericton, the “Children’s Wish Award”, and the prestigious “Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Award“.
Her charitable endeavors include donating painting reproductions that funded scholarships exceeding $250,000, with one in honour of her late son, Timmy.
She is also a proud mother to two other sons, Patrick and Chris, and credits her success to her ever-supportive husband, Joey. Catherine’s love for art was evident in her beautifully restored 1860 Victorian home that doubled as a gallery, gift shop, and tearoom. Sadly the home was destroyed by fire.
Upon turning 60, Catherine Karnes Munn chose to retire, but her love for art didn’t wane. She has since been imparting art lessons to First Nations Seniors, an experience that she finds deeply rewarding.
Catherine currently hosts weekly painting classes at her home, where she mentors budding artists, helping them to refine their painting skills. This new chapter in her life brings her immense joy and satisfaction. She delights in sharing her lifelong passion for painting, guiding her students on their individual artistic paths, and experiencing the beauty of art anew through the perspectives and creations of her students.
To view the full interview with Catherine Karnes Munn at her home click here to go to our YouTube channel.
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