By Bonnie Gangelhoff
What inspired your winning entry? It was just the next painting that came through me. I don’t paint to tell a story. It’s mostly visual for me. I’m sure there is something subconscious going on, but I can’t put it into words.
Do you come from an artistic background? Yes. My father, Oleg Stavrowsky, is pretty well known in the business. People love him or hate him, but there’s not much middle ground. To me, he’s the true definition of an artist. He lives to paint and is more excited now about his painting at the age of 84 than he was at my age. He’s always inspired me because of his true love of art. He just keeps working and changing.
Where did you study art? I have no art degrees or formal art education, just a lifetime of exposure to art through Oleg, plus 20 years of study and work.
What is your favorite subject matter, and why? I love design. For me, drawing is not reproducing something but rather designing it. A shoe painted the right way can be beautiful. Truly, to me, subject matter doesn’t mean much. It’s all composing and designing.
What is the best advice you have ever received? From my mom: “It’s all a gift.” I understand that statement to mean we should appreciate every experience because it is all a gift, from our lowest lows to our highest highs. With regard to artwork, Oleg told me not to be afraid to ruin your masterpiece.
What is the most meaningful recognition you have received for your artwork? Most people don’t know I exist, so I can’t draw from an extensive history of criticism. I’m always appreciative when anyone looks at my work. So many people don’t really look at anything. They see themselves in everything—everything is a mirror, and they’re lost in that reflection. Perhaps people shouldn’t work so hard at defining everything in life. The beauty is in the mystery. I’ve won no awards. I’m mostly unknown. And when anyone looks at my paintings and is affected by them, I’m truly thankful that they took the time to look.
Future goals? To love my family, pay my bills, and paint the next painting. There is nothing quite as exciting as
he next painting.
Featured in our annual “21 Over 31” competition in November 2010