Maria’s zest for art – and life
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, Niagara Falls gallery owner, artist and teacher Maria Klokkou’s already strong passion for life increased immeasurably.
Throwing herself into finding ways to help fight the disease, Maria created a pink poppy painting and donated it to the Life After Breast Cancer Conference to use as its logo. Her creativity extended beyond her canvasses to find new and innovative ways to raise money through her art, all aimed at finding a cure.
Maria was the survivor spokesperson at the second BRIGHT RUN in 2009, inspiring participants to hit the trail with enthusiasm and joy. Heading into its 10th anniversary celebration, the annual BRIGHT RUN has raised about $2.8 million and supported 15 important breast cancer research projects. Over the next nine months, we will profile the courageous folks who have been our survivor spokespeople through the years Maria passed away in 2012 at 58, after her cancer spread to her bones.
Her daughter Sarah continues Maria’s legacy each year, donating a painting of her mother’s to the BRIGHT RUN’s highly popular silent auction. Sarah reflects on her mother’s cancer experience often, marveling at the strength Maria demonstrated throughout her treatment and after. “She gave talks to inspire people to love life while living with cancer,” Sarah said. “Her tenacity and refusal to be ‘sick’ were both admirable and unbelievable. She was inspirational to those fighting the fight as well as to those fighting alongside them.”
Maria and Sarah moved to Canada from England in 1992. Maria established herself quickly as a vital force in the area’s art scene, eventually opening a studio/art gallery on Lundy’s Lane in Niagara Falls where she taught young artists.
Maria also made time, even after her cancer diagnosis, to give back to her community through volunteering her time and donating art. She donated her work to help a range of charitable organizations, did an oil painting for the 50th anniversary of the Niagara Symphony, donated a limited edition print to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Niagara Regional Police Service, and donated a large painting for the Breast Cancer Screening Clinic at the St. Catharines General Hospital.
After Maria’s death, Sarah told the Niagara Falls Review: “Mom lived with cancer…. She was never dying of cancer. She never let it overtake who she was.” Maria was inducted to the Niagara Falls Wall of Fame in 2013 in recognition of her work in the community. In 2009, Maria explained to the St. Catharines Standard that art was her passion, an integral part of her. “It (art) chooses you,” she said. “You don’t have any choice.”