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Mary Ellen with work by Tim Yanke, Tarkay and Fanch Ledan, known today primarily by his Breton nickname “Fanch,”

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Home is where the art is

Mary Ellen Vanaken loves color. Her dining room walls are rich red, a vibrant backdrop for world-renown works of art she and her husband have collected over 20 years of travel and exploring a palate of contemporary art. Her two-story foyer is an impressive gallery, nearly every inch covered with framed works from favorite artists. "Our artwork is our decoration and everything else works around it," she says. "We keep our artwork consistent on our walls we don’t change them around. We do group with the colors  and artist and do like to put different artists work  together." They have made purchases while traveling and locally at Ann Jackson Gallery in Roswell.

As a realtor, she advises clients to keep their artwork up while listing a home, "unless it's a piece that is x-rated - which might offend a buyer." 

Meet some of Mary Ellen's favorite artists.

Tim Yanke was born in Detroit in 1962 as the youngest of six siblings. Yanke’s fascination with Southwest American began to take hold in 1974 during his visits to see his sister at Northern Arizona University. It was at this time that his parents encouraged him to pursue his artistic inklings. The unfortunate passing of his sister a couple of years later deepened his love for the Southwest as it reminded him of her, and he used this love and passion to grow as an artist. Yanke has been influenced by abstract painters like Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock. When studying art history, Yanke became fascinated by abstract and impressionist styles, further motivating him to become an artist. He approaches his works with an idea in mind, but doesn’t always know what colors he’ll use until he has begun, adding an organic layer to his technique. He draws viewers in with a variety of media, whether it’s with written words, spray paint, chalk or acrylics, causing them to ponder his messages while finding their own meanings.

Born in France in 1949, self-taught artist François Ledan (Fanch Ledan as he signs himself) has a wide-established reputation with works that are appreciated by a growing number of international collectors. Using the rhythms and elements from today’s visual environment, Fanch gives us a distinct, original, contemporary vision of his work. In the past decade he has turned his talent to something he calls “Interiorscapes”, which have become his signature style. Using a playful and colorful technique he blends together interior and exterior settings to create a happy marriage between art and architecture. By intentionally leaving the interiors uninhabited by human figures, he invites the viewer to imagine himself in this balanced and harmonious space.

Itzchak Tarkay was an Israeli painter known for his Post-Impressionist portraits done in watercolor and acrylic. Influenced by the work of both Henri Matisse and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Tarkay’s expressive, use of color lent a dream-like quality to his serigraphs, prints, and paintings. Born in 1935 in Subotica, Serbia, Tarkay and family settled in Israel after Allied forces freed them from a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. The artist went on to study at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and later the Avni Institute of Art and Design in Tel Aviv. Later in life, Tarkay mentored younger Israeli artists, including Yaacov Agam and Yuval Wolfson. 

Mary Ellen Vanaken, Real Estate Consultant


  • Mary Ellen with work by Tim Yanke, Tarkay and Fanch Ledan, known today primarily by his Breton nickname “Fanch,”
  • Autumn Deforest, horse  Mouley, student of Picasso, top Fanch,
  • Tim Yanke
  • These two paintings are among Mary Ellen's favorites, collected over years of travel and exploring galleries and private collections.
  • Peter Max, left and Fanch, right