Monday, March 9, 2009

Painter and Mosaic Artist, Janet Kozachek - Content and Form

Janet Kozachek

Janet Kozachek’s blog is one of my favorite morning reads. Janet is a self-ordained eclectic artist who sports a diverse background that includes a three-continent arts education.
Beijing Central Art Academy

Janet writes, “The multitude of influences can make it challenging for those who would like to define me as an artist but it does make for interesting stories. I studied art and science at Douglass College in New Jersey and obtained my Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting from Parsons School of Design. In between New Jersey and New York I took a seven year detour into China and Europe. I learned how to become a Chinese painter at the Beijing Central Art Academy and how to be a ceramic sculptor at the State Academy of Applied Arts in Maastricht, Holland I have made my home and studio in Orangeburg, South Carolina for about fourteen years. “

In the 80’s, Janet's life in Holland proved to be less than the ideal feminist existence.

Janet made the painting above as a response to the conservative political climate there at the time, addressing a less-than-desirable Netherland's stance on women’s rights.

For more than a decade, Janet has been photographing and painting shacks, sheds, abandoned homesteads and other edifices that show exposure to natural wear. Her attraction to these lies in the intersecting planes of complex colors and the textures of vegetation that weave a tapestry around them. She is attracted to the various patinas , chipped layers of paint, and worn wood, all of which she finds beautiful in their erosion.

Her painting technique is one in which she merges tactile applications with traditional artist’s tools. The painted Blackville, South Carolina scene above is one she created for her exhibition last month called, “"Abandonment and Rediscovery: The Vanishing Architecture of Central South Carolina."” The exhibit will run through March 28, 2009.

“My painting technique was to use flat planes of color troweled on with a small palette knife. Details and textures were scratched through or applied with more knife strokes. Impatient with that after a number of days spent working on this canvas, I finally finger-painted in the rest.”’

"Abandonment and Rediscovery: the Vanishing Architecture of Central South Carolina," is now on view at the Rivers, Rails and Crossroads Discovery Center in Blackville.

"The space was a little smaller than I had recalled so I had to hang the paintings and photographs "gallery style" with two rows of pictures instead of a single row. I had originally intended to hang the paintings separate from the photographs in separate but once I started putting them on the walls, it seemed natural to intersperse them. In this way the actual view of the sites are juxtaposed with the painted interpretations of them.”

Having spent a lot of time in New Orleans, I find myself particularly attracted to Janet’s portrayal of the “shotgun shack” as they are called there. This South Carolina version is compelling.

“The "shot gun" name was ostensibly derived from the theory that a bullet from a shot gun fired through the front door would travel the length of the house and exit out the back window. The house was painted a robin’s egg blue with a more delicate azure blue trim. This blue, I am told, is called "shoo devil blue." Before moving to South Carolina, I had never heard of a specific color on a house having apotropaic powers. Whatever effect the color was purported to have on the devil, it actually attracted me. I could not help but notice it glaring out from the landscape - a bar of turquoise set in an otherwise understated palette of earthly colors.”

About her arts’ content and form, Janet states, “I know that people collect my paintings of sheds, shacks, small houses, and abandoned homesteads for their content. It is up to me to imbue that content with form. As long as the form continues to hold meaning for me this does not entail too much compromise of artistic integrity.

In the wrangling between painting for the joy of the form itself and the knowledge that a certain look or subject will capture public sentiment, I have come to the conclusion that there is value to both. The former fulfills my need and the latter, my clients', with some valuable overlap between the two and discovery along the way.”

I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger if I did not also feature Janet's unique mosaic work for all the fans of mosaic art out there. These pictures are taken from her blog and can be read about there. I am especially drawn to the pre-Columbian-influenced mosaic masks:

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Stacy Alexander