Wild is an understatement. Mary’s Gone Wild feels like stepping into another world where old and new, color, and a little bit of absurd all meet. Mary Paulsen, now in her 60s, began creating artwork in the 1980s when she began dumpster diving and refinishing items to sell. Then one day, while she was doing dishes she had a vision.
In this vision, she says the Lord told her to create—to make artwork, and so she did.
There is nothing Mary won’t paint on, surfboards, signs, glass windows, discarded pieces of wood, chairs, and tables. Her home in Holden Beach has become a Mecca of unique artwork and collectibles. Vivid colors, bright patterns, and bold pieces of what some may see as trash adorn every available space.
She has built small houses all over her property, each with different themes. There’s a Christmas house, a school house, a boy’s clubhouse, a library, a Coca-Cola House, and a girl’s clubhouse complete with an Easy Bake Oven. She has even made a small chapel out of recycled glass bottles and windows.
Mary sells some of her works of art, the prices range from $4 to $4,000, depending on the material and size, but Mary doesn’t do this for profit. All the proceeds she makes go to a charity called Feed the Children., an organization that exists to end childhood hunger and feeds more than 263,000 children every day.
Mary knows what it’s like to lead a hard life, she was one of ten children raised in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, long before it was developed. Her husband died when he drowned, their children at the time were just 3 years old and 11 months old. Mary has also battled a tumor and dropped down to just 76 pounds, she was even pronounced dead— twice. But Mary found strength and fought back, rallying her strength and finding God.
Mary is now an established folk artist with artwork hanging in all 50 states and artwork featured in the Museum of Art in Georgia as part of the Folk Art exhibit. She has been the subject of books, several documentaries, and numerous articles. But the most rewarding thing to Mary is the people who come to Mary’s Gone Wild (the name of her trove of artwork adjacent to her home) and visit with her.
Everyone is invited to Mary’s Gone Wild, there are no appointments (she doesn’t use email or a computer) but she stays near her home most days, and is happy to see visitors. She likes to listen to people’s stories and share her bright outlook of the world with others.
Want to Visit Mary’s Gone Wild?
Where: 2431 Holden Beach Rd. SW, Supply, NC 28462