Exhibit ran from January 15-February 20, 2004
Pieces of straw and a razor blade take the
place of paint and brush in the hands of Marian Paskowicz, of Norristown,
Pennsylvania. "Many persons in Poland do straw painting," says the artist,
who came to this country in 1960, "but in the U.S. it is rare only because
artistic persons never have been exposed to it and never have thought of
straw as a real or true art medium." Marian Paskowicz began doing straw art
at the age of sixteen.
The first step is to sketch or trace the subject carefully on paper or art board. The second step is to select the pieces of straw according to the tone and shadings requested by the subject, and to cut the straw accordingly with a sharp razor. Marian uses oat, rye, wheat, millet and barley straw to provide the various shades and textures he needs. Friends and relatives in Poland keep him supplied with the raw material.
The artist carefully inlays and glues each strand on the detailed sketch. He repeats the procedure until the drawing is completely covered with varying shades of straw. He then cuts away the surplus paper and fastens the work to a colored board - black, blue, burgundy. The finished product is sprayed with a protective coating.
The detail in the completed painting is nearly as fine as a painter could do it with a brush. Shading, texture and lighting of the straw give the work a golden glow.
Marian Paskowicz has "painted" a variety of subjects: state capitols throughout the U.S., portraits of U.S. presidents, the most famous vases of ancient cultures, the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, Saint Peter's in Rome. Among his masterpieces are counted The Last Supper and (imagine) the whole of the Sistine chapel. This exhibit shows a selection of over four hundred straw Madonnas.
Marian Paskowicz's art form is unique, and the artist is not eager to sell. Each of the hundreds of straw paintings is copyrighted. Marian's ambition is not critical acclaim, fame or wealth. He has an artist's dream, which is also the dream of a man with a generous heart. His dream is someday to have his own museum,where he can display his work for the joy of the audience, and use the proceeds to help the homeless.
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