Welcome to KJ Art Center, home for the art of Ken Januski.
I have studied atudio art, and art history, at City College of San Francisco, University of California at Berkeley and Cornell University. The vast bulk of my training and work has been abstract.
In the early to mid 2000s though I was getting pretty tired of the importance that words were playing in artwork that was shown in the better galleries and museums. More and more it looked like the art couldn’t stand on its own, that needed a verbal crutch. To me the emperor was quickly losing his clothes This wasn’t really new to me. When I was a graduate student at UC Berkeley I argued with friends and fellow students about the fact that verbiage played so large a part in their work. This was in the 1970s. I just never expected it to become the predominant art medium. Twenty years later that seemed to be the case.
During a five year period I cut down drastically on my production of art. But I did take up using a technical pen to draw garden insects viewed under a dissecting microscope. This began for practical reasons. I wanted to know whether the insects in my garden were helpful or harmful, Lady Bug Beetle, or Potato Beetle. I found that drawing them helped me to see them better and thus to ID them better. I also found that I found the results visually pleasing. But I was still interested in doing more ambitious abstract art. The work above from that time tried to resolve this. It is done in my abstract style of that time but includes a dead flea beetle at top left. I’d drawn it from life and abstracted it. But I wanted to make some sort of statement about the art world so I forced the issue a bit by suggesting that the figure on lower left was Mr. Avant-Garde and that he was pretty empty. The problem with this of course is that it requires just as much of a verbal explanation as the work I was criticizing. So I only did this one work in this quasi-polemic style.
I had a couple of shows of these insect drawings at a local nature center but I moved to a new house that didn’t have a studio and I eventually stopped almost all art work. A few years later though I talked to an old Berkeley classmate who was somewhat successful with her abstract work. I told her that if I ever got back into art it might very well be as a naturalistic painter who used birds as subject. This wasn’t a plan, just something that came out as I talked to her. I’d been an active birder at that time and I think my love of birds just pushed itself to the forefront of my consciousness as I thought about what I’d like to do if I returned to art.
And starting in 2006 that’s exactly what I did. It was difficult to more or less start anew, knowing that though I thought myself a talented abstract artist I’d be sure to look like a raw beginner with naturalistic work. Six years later I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made. I knew when I started that I didn’t want to do work that looked like it was derived from a photo. The discovery of ‘Drawing Birds’ by John Busby soon after I started using birds as subject showed me what vital work was being done by artists who spent much of their time drawing birds from life. This was a wonderful discovery. Field sketching has been a large part of my work ever since then, but particularly in the last three years. In 2011 I started to get some recognition and was thrilled to take part in the Society of Wildlife Artists’ Annual Exhibition in London, UK. I was also a finalist in the International Art Category of the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year 2011 and 2012. I again exhibited with the Society of Wildlife Artists in 2012.
Below is one of my first new works of 2013 and shows one manner in which I’m currently working.
By exploring the menu at top you can find examples of my work in various media. If you ended up here expecting to find the old kenjanuski.com page you’ve done so because I, at least temporarily, have moved the content to this site..