Jane Whiting (J.M.W.) Chrzanoska

Solitaire By Artist Jane Whiting Chrzanoska

A few months ago, by way of an introduction to artist Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos, I mentioned a few pieces of art that my mother owned, when my sisters and I were children/pre-teens and which hung in our dining room area.  At the time I only remembered one in particular, and described it thusly:

The poster in question, surrounded by Erté prints, and oversized posters of the major arcana from the Thoth deck (with a occasional B. Kliban thrown into the mix) was…well, I don’t exactly remember. There was a lady. There might have been a goblet, or a cat, or a long, winding strand of pearls. What I do distinctly remember was a scrawling signature at the bottom, utterly illegible except for a swooping “J”. Maybe a crooked “C” that trailed off to a distorted “W”. In my head, I began to refer to the creator of this fantastical art, as “JAW CRAZER” and I was astounded when, earlier today, I sent a text to my sister asking if the name meant anything to her…and she knew exactly which painting I was talking about. And I swear –I never, ever said that name aloud. Crazy. Or CRAZER, as the case may be.

Intrigue By Artist Jane Whiting Chrzanoska

Well. As it happens, I am not the only one who loses sleep over such things. My sisters were both in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and had retired to the guest bedroom area, which doubles as my office and houses a wildly uncomfortable captain’s bed (but it’s super cute). Unbeknownst to me at the time, in an unprecedented act of snoozelessness, Middle Sister lay awake perusing the results of internet queries, seeking out these mysterious works of art from our childhood. The funny thing is, I don’t even recall that we were discussing our memories of them earlier in the evening! But sometimes the sisterwave psychosphere just works that way.

I myself had crawled into bed maybe ten minutes prior, and just as I felt myself lightly slipping into slumber, my cell phone rang! It was my sister, calling me from across the house! How weird. Vaguely irritated, or I would have been if it wasn’t my own sister, I stumbled out of bed to see what the heck she wanted. I stood in the doorway and called into the darkened room to her. Though I could not see her face, her excited response frizzled my hair right to the tips and thrilled my heart to buoyant wakefulness: “I FOUND HER, SARAH! I FOUND JAW CRAZER!”

Champagne By Artist Jane Whiting Chrzanoska

Dang! That’s some midnight detective work! I’d been looking for years to no avail.

Jane Whiting (J.M.W.) Chrzanoska was born in Germantown, Philadelphia in 1948 (the same year our mother was born!) An ambitious young woman, she painted her first mural, an 8’x12′ depiction of Napoleon at Waterloo on her bedroom wall, and later convinced what must have been a very understanding friend to offer his bedroom wall for her painting of ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ from Wagner’s Ring Cycle. At age 16 she was accepted into the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia and also made her first important sale, a study of 50 orchestral musicians, to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. After a few months at the Academy, Jane unfortunately grew bored with the emphasis on abstract expressionism and she began skipping classes and spending more time at the University of Pennsylvania city campus. She convinced the head of the Archaeology department, to let her practice drawing various artifacts in the collection and as it turns out, this new interest in archaeology would significantly impact her later work.

In 1969 she moved to Ithaca, N.Y. and then to Woodstock where she lived in a cabin with no running water and no electricity but was afforded the opportunity to view a private and well guarded collection of the works of Fra Angelico, owned by the Archdiocese of New York. In 1970 she moved closer to Manhattan and married her first husband, Benjamin Chrzanoski, where she continued to paint for the next ten years, exhibited in the city, and amassed an impressive list of collectors, singer/actress Cher, and and Addams Family creator Charles Addams among the more notable. In 1980 she was approached by Impress Graphics, a fine arts publisher. Her work was sold worldwide and afforded her the opportunity to travel. Over the next several years she traveled extensively throughout Europe and Peru, where her first child was born; but returned to the states five months after her second child was born, when terrorist activities moved too close to her home in Lima. After 20 years as owner/operator of the Mill Street Art Center in Mays Landing, NJ, Jane relocated to Hammonton NJ where she teaches and works in her new studio.

Mask By Artist Jane Whiting Chrzanoska

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This last painting is one we just found today, and whose moody elegance never graced our walls–however!– oddly enough when, on a whim my sister did an etsy search for art by J.M.W. Chrzanoska, she found a set of three prints, including “The Mask”, just listed yesterday! Yesterday! (Though you can find some prints on Amazon, too.)This was too much of a coincidence to ignore, right? So ignore it I did not. These beauties will soon be making their way to us, and our of cup mysteries, brimming with our mother’s countless secrets and ciphers and coded mementos and memories, will soon be closer to leveling out.

Find Jane Whiting (J.M.W.) Chrzanoska: Website // Facebook

And of course we can’t solve a mystery without a matching ensemble, can we?
{Click image to see details on the items included.}

htw

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