THE CREATIVE VOICE. This is the eighth in a series of monthly posts that will explore the sources of creative inspiration of living artists. Featured artists will speak of the unique circumstances that cause the Muses to visit them, and how they understand and interpret what the Muses are imparting. The artists will share their personal intuitions and insights, sometimes by telling a story, sometimes by explaining a concept or vision. May this exhilarating voyage encourage and motivate the artist in each of us.
At Schat’s Bakery on Perkins Street in Ukiah, California, customers are regularly treated to a revolving collection of fine art and photography. One morning in January, a new set of paintings suddenly appeared: large, dramatic, colorful, sensual, with most featuring stunning, seductive women gazing out inquisitively and inviting the viewer to discover the story behind the piece.
You Don’t Know Her Husband Henry
With the help of each painting’s name, the works of Polish artist Joanna Zjawinska quickly engaged my fantasy and imagination.
I Just Wish He Is European
Zjawinska began to paint at age 6. After earning a B.A. degree from the School of Architecture in Warsaw, she studied for her Masters at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts where she perfected her unique style of oil and watercolor painting and earned a degree in Graphic Design.
Ah, Wilderness Of A Heart
In 1979, with her husband and daughter, Joanna left her native Poland to settle in San Francisco.
Her artistic influences have been Vermeer, Degas, and Sargent. Zjawinska’s paintings often include animals and birds, which add complexity and interest to her artistic narrative.
How Fortunate The Man
Joanna’s hypnagogic visions invite us to ponder the many layers of human emotion and relationship.
Patience Was Never My Middle Name
Zjawinska also paints abstract landscapes, inspired by both JMW Turner and the natural simplicity and beauty of San Francisco and Mendocino Counties.
And Those Who Stay
Having personally been a blue water sailor, I have felt the terror her seascapes evoke, recalling the Old Breton prayer:
Oh, God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.
Joanna’s current work reflects her vibrant artistic imagination. When we met over coffee, she shared her inspiration to combine images from the past with new life impressions. Take La Grande Bellezza Rome 1956 (below) as an example:
In this painting, I conjoined the beautiful Spanish moss I had admired on many of the old trees in New Orleans with the classic architecture of imperial Rome.
La Grande Bellezza Rome 1956
Zjawinska’s work, richly informed by nature, literature, and cinema — she is an avid reader and a lover of foreign art films — is housed in the National Museum in Torun, Poland; the Polish Institute of New York; Guerlain Perfumes, Paris; Elizabeth Arden, San Francisco; Nordstrom’s Inc., Seattle; Warner/Vanderbilt, New York; MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas; and is a part of the private art collections of Michael Caine, Jackie Collins, Brooke Shields, and Sidney Poitier.
Joanna presently resides in Ukiah, California. She is as fascinating in person as are her unforgettable works of art.