Eminent 20th Century Texas Artist

A Little Background.....


My Relationship to the Artist

Mary Jane’s mother, Carrie Melissa Overleese and my grandfather, Herbert Marion Overlesse were siblings.  This makes Mary Jane my first cousin, once removed.  Additionally, Mary Jane’s only child, Jane Bullock (Edwards) and my mom, Jennie Overleese (Carroll) were childhood friends. However, I regretfully don't recall ever meeting Mary Jane.  You see she died in 1978 at the age of 79 in Fort Worth and I was in my early 20's at the time, attending college in Louisiana. So sadly, I am afraid, I did not get to know her  or really learn to appreciate her art back then the way I do now!  Please read on and let me explain.

My Maternal Grandparents

In the early 1920's, my grandfather, Herbert Marion Overleese married my grandmother, Nina Mae Herrington.  Both Nina and Mary Jane were born in 1899 and thus became friends when Nina married into the Overlesse family.  So when Mary Jane was starting her career as an artist in the early 1920’s, my grandparents purchased numerous pieces of her work and hung them in their home and in my grandmother's piano studio In Tyler, TX.

Through the Years

Herbert and Nina had one daughter, Jennie June Overleese (1926-2010). The photograph above is of my mother, Jennie, as a young girl, playing the piano in my grandparent's parlor in their Tyler, TX home.  Note the Mary Jane paintings above and to the right of the piano (early 1940's).  Jennie pursued a music degree at SMU, Dallas.  Following  the end of WWII, Jennie met and married in January 1946 a young Army officer, Jim Carroll from Elizabethtown, KY. Together they had 4 children, James (1949- 2008), Mary (1952 - 2013), Barbara and David.  Together as a family, they traveled the world, but never lost their Texas roots. 

On the Walls of our Homes

As my grandparents grew older, they gradually passed on their acquired collection of Mary Jane's art to Jennie and Jim.  So, being one of the four Carroll children, I grew up seeing and enjoying Mary Jane's paintings on the walls of our home. But inevitably, time passes and possessions get passed on to the next generation.  This is how I came as an adult to now own, display, collect and cherish the work of Mary Jane in my own home.

Growing Appreciation

As is the tendency sometimes, you don't always appreciate relationships, heritage, heirlooms, etc. until you grow older.  That is the case with me and Mary Jane.  The older I get, the more interest and appreciation I have developed in Mary Jane's work.  However, with so many of her peers deceased and my own parents and grandparents gone, I don't have as many resources as I might have had when I was younger!   So my purpose in creating this web page is to reach out to others - family members, collectors, etc. to learn more about Mary Jane, her life and her art.

My Quest, My Mission, My Goal

So instead, I have resorted to history books and the Internet to learn more about Mary Jane and her art. But luckily I met a secret resource - Mary Jane's sister, Mrs. Virginia "Tye" Blackwell (nee McLean) who lived in in Dallas, TX.  While she passed away in 2019 at the age of 105, I had the true pleasure to meet her and her son (my second cousin), Tom Blackwell. Also, I have been in touch with Mary Jane's granddaughters, her nieces and extended family and through them, have learn more about the Overleese's and the McClean's, about Mc Mary Jane and her art.

Going forward, my goal is to highlight and showcase Mary Jane's work as best I can and honor those in our large extended family who had the joy of knowing her and the foresight to collect it and pass it on for generations to come.