Our Christmas Gift Arrived Today

Everyday, I wake up, mildly amazed by my wife. She’s smart, funny and constantly fascinating and through some lovely circumstance, still married to me. But after all our years together, the gifts you truly value start to evolve. What matters changes.

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonWhich is why I love this so much. This is our gift to each other this year; an oil painting of our family swimsuits drying on hooks outside our place in Wisconsin. The memories this image conjures in my head–the barefoot days, the happy hours out on the lake and evenings on the porch–make it redolent with joy. But the fact that one of our best friends for many years painted it specifically for us makes it particularly resonant.

I’ve known Marie Kirk Burke my entire professional career. A well-regarded voice over actress capable of becoming anything from a Keebler Elf to a devastating Barbara Walters, we worked together a lot when I was producing radio in Chicago. Later we became neighbors and Marie and her equally hysterical husband Kevin became fast friends for dinners and movies debated over Baker’s Square pies. Over the past ten years, Marie’s re-immersed herself in painting, and we’ve loved seeing her career bloom in showings and Chicago galleries (see more of her work here).

No, you can’t see all that in this painting. But we feel it, that great and mysterious gift of art. It’s like hanging a smile in your living room. And what a wonderful gift that is.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

2 thoughts on “Our Christmas Gift Arrived Today

  1. Michael LaConte says:

    Marie Burke, is an absolutly stunning artist with a great ability to laugh and play in her work.
    Her work is personal, yet has a wonderful and cheeky wit.
    When she enters the room, it is filled with amazing positive energy and joy.
    It has been an honor to represent her work and to know her even more so.
    Michael LaConte / President Homey Inc.

  2. Cheryl Lindquist says:

    I too love Marie and have probably known her as long as I’ve been in the ad business ( not to be revealed). Her voice and her talent is amazing
    And yes I worked on one of those keeber elf spots yrs ago at Leo burnett
    Thanks for sharing this amazing picture
    Merry Christmas Dennis
    Still miss you!!

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