Barbara Morrison Januszkiewicz (born February 23, 1955) is an American painter, artist's filmmaker and a creative activist who is best known for her stylistic independence; however, has associations with the pop art movement, conceptual art and avant-garde elements. She specializes in watercolor painting in a hybrid style that blur the line between drawing and painting. Her 21st-century works on paper to date is the truest of hybrid style by crossing two central elements of American postwar art: color field painting and Abstract expressionism.
Her artwork has appeared predominantly in the Washington, D.C. area, including the Phillips Collection, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Gallery K and The Art League. Her works can also be found in feature magazines, films, cable and international television formats. Januszkiewicz is the founder of "Art in the Heart", grant programs for the promotion of the arts in the community, 1999. From 2001–2012 she was a watercolor instructor and adjunct professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington DC. Her newest work has been in collaboration with other artists in reinventing how one interprets art, music and creative thinking. 2012 she became the first visual artist in residency for The American Jazz Museum, Kansas City. Januszkiewicz lives in Arlington, Virginia yet has formed strong connections with jazz masters like Dave Liebman and Matthew Shipp who are New York based.
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The Composer project is a unique artistic and musical collaboration, combining multisensory experiences from dazzling cinematography to the juxtaposition of atmospheric sounds with the carefully composed piano score. This project presents an incredible auditory and visual storytelling experience, devoid of the hindrances of language or unnecessary conversations to distract the viewer from the compositions.
In 1997 Januszkiewicz started showing her film shorts on a public-access television in a series that showcased artists and their works from the greater Washington Metropolitan Area Creative Vision Television for the Arts. Key documentaries include Hilda Thorpe, in her own words a documentary of an independent-spirited member of the Washington Color School, Thorpe being one of the only women to be part of this avant-garde school which use color to united all the artists. See text, Washington Review Volume XXV1 No.June 1/July 2000. Another documentary, Remembering The Present, was filmed in the Kreeger Museum in Washington, D.C., in July 2000. This showcased an exhibition that would be part of The Kreeger Museum’s citywide initiative, DC Citypiece: Monuments at the Millennium.
A controversial Creative Vision television documentary was a traveling roadshow from Boston called The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA). This was the world's only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms. Since 1994, the Museum of Bad Art has been dedicated to bring the worst of art to the widest of audiences. Januszkiewicz saw the opportunity to show the satire of the whole thing. The documentary captured pseudo art patrons as they attended the gallery opening. The remarks that were filmed was based on sarcasm and mocking the art. The Creative Vision documentary captured raw conversations of people mesmerized by the artwork. This documentary MOBA was broadcast on public access cable television for over 8 years straight, again a testimony to the mockery that bad art gets more respect then fine art, Januszkiewicz explains.
After completing her first three documentaries out of 20 she was named Producer of the Year by Arlington Independent Media. Creative Vision TV for the Arts was remixed in 2010 to help highlight creative activists, who are using art outreach to create positive change in the world.
Januszkiewicz has been a multi-media artist, filmmaker, visual journalist, and teacher. Januszkiewicz trained formally in the mid-1970s at Jacksonville University under the Chinese master Mun Quan, a traditional watercolorist whose influence can be seen in her simple Zen landscapes and in her wet and controlled technique. " Mun Quan, my mentor and teacher in traditional watercolors from China, believed every time you sit down to paint you should mentally thank the universe for the opportunity and begin the painting session with writing a poem or title to your painting. This approach to writing a poem to the yet to be painted painting is really a way to focus. This technique, mentally visualizing is beneficial in the direction and the tone of a yet to be created work. When I lead a master class in watercolors I make references to Mun Quan's poems to paintings and guide my students through the process. Traditionally most western artists only will sign their paintings after they're finished. This poetry is part of the prep work for expressing the creative vision."
Over time, this artistic expression evolved into her signature "fusion" style of painting. The influence of avant-garde artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and others can be seen in Januszkiewicz's choice of subject matter depicting everyday Americanism. Much like a classical performer embraces a range of styles, her compositions are inspired by scenes ranging from crowded city streets to close-ups of coffee and donuts and cafeteria foods to bicycle spokes and Ferris wheels. From 1990– 2010 Januszkiewicz's style was to paint mostly from memory to reflect on the relationship of pure, fresh color and design, resulting in a feeling of nostalgia while staying on the edge of realism. We now find her work showing notes from The Washington Color School as a colorful Abstract Expressionist with her larger color fields.
Januszkiewicz was first exposed to "happenings" through the Washington Color School artist Hilda Thorpe in the early 1980s. Her art studio in Old Town Alexandria Virginia would foster diverse artists and performers to coming together in making performing art installations.
Thorpe recalls many of Washington's best artists would show up and be part of these happenings. Others spectators would just lay back and enjoy the interplay between all the different disciplines. This was a forerunner to the art happenings that occurred in the Washington area with Art-o-Matic. These happenings provide a forum for artists to convene, perform and exhibit, strengthening Washington's arts community.
2010 found inspiration during the summer of in Paris reconnecting with her passion for jazz music and seeing her art in musical terms. In her latest works she captures movement and expression with optical illusions and bright hues. Her series of musical notations is based on jazz elements with a geometric and color fixation. These compositions gradually become more structured in a series of musical notations while keeping a loose and flowing touch. This latest fusion of jazz and painting has infused Januszkiewicz's work with a rhythm and flow that addresses a new media form and opens new dialogues with other creative art forms and artists, like a revamping of happenings from the 1960s. The Jazz Vision Trio was formed with Januszkiewicz along with legendary jazz masters Dave Liebman and Jean-Marrie Machado. Barbara Januszkiewicz as a (painter/ filmmaker jazz installation performance artist) takes risk in many of her projects adding to the avant-garde feeling with new media.
This latest fusion of jazz and painting in Januszkiewicz's work shows nonconventional interpretations of movement, art and music. The American Jazz Museum has recognized this artist's energy, her innovative new media projects and her commitment and using multimedia platforms or transmedia for artistic excellence, and she is now working on collaborative programs with the organization. In addition she has also been invited to collaborate with some of the finest avant-garde jazz musicians as a visual artist.
- Barb Januszkiewicz, "Jazz can be a blank canvas full of possibilities."
- Jazz Vision Trio Dave Liebman, Jean-Marie Machado & Barbara Januszkiewicz Eric watson Dave Liebman, Jean-Marie Machado & Barbara Januszkiewicz
- The Composer: Matthew Shipp & Barb Januszkiewicz Film/art by Barbara Januszkiewicz/ Matt Shipp — Kickstarter
- Ms. Hilda Thorpe interview (text)
- Creative Vision: list of programs
- Washington Review XXV June/July 2000
- Jazz Vision Trio
- official website The Composer.info
- Portfolio at ArtFile Online
- Elizabeth Tebow Hilda Thorpe: sculpture, paperwork, painting, 1963–1988, Athenaeum, Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association (Alexandria, Va), 1988
- "Hilda Thorpe, in her own words", Washington Review Volume XXVI No.June 1/July 2000