July 24, 2021

 The exhibition, Artists Drawing Artists, opens today at Stormwater Studios in Columbia, SC.  This was a really fun exhibition to prepare for.  Artists paired up and exchanged photographs of themselves.  Many of the artists knew each other so were able to creatively incorporate personal life and art themes into the final portraits.  The portrait that Jeri Burdick did of me, for instance, alludes to my monumental snake paintings.  My portrait of Jeri included a tongue-in-cheek references to the weirder photos that I had sent of myself to her.  The background in Jeri's portrait is embellished with Jeri's free style brushwork.  These portraits made the local news! https://wach.com/features/arts-wach/artists-drawing-artists-stormwater-studios-exhibition?fbclid=IwAR2QRaaGVrjBS3hSOOw-KsQ6mrVqgJb5GBtjakO_4DHJBqhVHRTRfIWkDIs



June 23, 2021


 Yesterday I was interviewed by the New York Parrot regarding my previously published books, The Book of Marvelous Cats, and My Women, My Monsters. We also discussed my upcoming full length poetry collection, A Rendering of Soliloquies, Figures Painted in Spots of Time.  Many thanks to my publisher, Finishing Line Press, for helping to arrange this.  Enjoy the talk and a view of my art-cluttered studio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvcJgdsDIbk


May 27, 2021

Paper and Steel: Three Versions of "Initiate" and a Poem by Tamara Miles




  On of my tiny drawings, entitled “Initiate,” was selected as part of the brochure for Paper and Steel. But try as I might, I could not locate this drawing.  As the time to hang  this exhibition drew near, I figured that the only solution to the dilemma of the lost work was to draw it over again.  The first drawing was a mere 4" x 6,” so I decided to make the copy 9" x 12,” which better suited its place among the other 9" x 12" charcoal and ink paintings.  So this was hung with the rest of the exhibitions of calligraphic dancers, and I never mentioned that this was a replacement.

Then news came of a small painting that I had made from the sketch, also 4" x 6.”  This color version was sold at the Artists for Africa exhibition.  My donation made me feel a little less useless as an artist and someone in Africa will get needed food, shelter and clothing - perhaps even a dance scholarship.



The night of the Ekphrastic Poetry Reading at Paper and Steel came next.  The poet Tamara Miles selected the drawing of Initiate to write for.  Ah! I thought.  Good thing that I replaced this drawing.  The new drawing, was a bit more lively than the original drawing but not quite as fancy as the painting.  Dr. Miles gave an outstanding performance of her moving poem, which she is graciously sharing for this blog post and other social media.  The poem will be attached to the wall near the painting so it can be appreciated in person.  Paper and Steel will be on exhibit at the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center until June 30.  


Initiate

-Tamara Miles, after a drawing by Janet Kozachek


To begin, I raise my arms

In perfect praise


to be introduced,

a spark flown

from the initiator’s hand --


and if I learn the way of peace,

an operatic sway,


what promises are made to me?


Just one: You’ll never be the same,


as wild ones once are tamed,

and wild no more.


This ceremony seals,

a holy spirit steals

our names.


An oogenesis occurs --

where we were, 

someone newborn.


Whatever oath was asked,

we’ve sworn.


May 25, 2021

Paper and Steel: An Ekphrastic Poetry Reading by Mind Gravy Poetry


 The ekphrastic poetry reading by Mind Gravy Poetry was a moving tribute to the art work in the exhibition Paper and Steel, at the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center.  Mind Gravy always does a great job with this.  In my previous blog, I wrote a short review of Derek Berry's recent publication, Glitter Husk.  At the poetry reading a week ago, Derek chose my drawing, Conspiracy Theories, to write and perform for.  It was a tiny 5" x 7" charcoal drawing, but it caught his attention.  Mr. Berry has graciously allowed me to share his composition for the art work: 

conspiracy theories, after janet kozachek


what must god have felt

when the floodwaters crammed

the lungs of non-believers?

what must have noah’s sons

thought when their friends drowned,

mud and blood and screaming

in the rush of water, the image

of god a turned back,

a night sky? did they whisper

to one another of cruelty?

empathy? or did they cluck

their tongues at those

who had named the dark clouds a conspiracy?

there must be some moment

when children look at their fathers

and understand they are also sons,

when they understand their parents

cannot answer for god.


on facebook, the mother of my childhood best friend

implores her friends to abandon ship.

they will no longer put up with the fake news,

the stolen election, the wicked vaccines,

the homosexual agenda, the millennial generation,

the microchips, the freudian slips,

the children in cages or the children in basements,

the children learning about evolution in schools,

the children who will grow up to one day hate them

for all they do not believe to be true.


i too have huddled with friends

in smoky rooms and asked the questions

about the cia, the man, the medical establishment,

the history not taught in schools, the slaughters forgotten,

the unions busted, the god written and rewritten

into thousands of books, then painted white

and hung on a plastic cross hanging from the neck

of the mother of my childhood best friend,

who believes i’m the enemy.


i do not how to trust anymore.

i do not know how to point to the truth

& say, “this is the truth,” without flinching

at everything i do not know.

i do not know how to ask god, “why?”

without wondering when my children will ask me the same question.


but i know i touch my lover’s

face with the same hands

once cradled in the palms

of that woman, who once fed me,

who once when i was a toddler,

kept me alive for three days

while my brother was born premature in the hospital.

a woman who loved me, in a way,

until i grew up to become one of the drowned.



May 24, 2021

Glitter Husk by Derek Berry Review

 

Everyone knows the old canard, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”  But it was the exquisite cover design, embellished with a lavender cicada emerging from its case, and the glittery lettering, that drew my attention to Derek Berry’s poetry chapbook, Glitter Husk. The cover, featuring the art work of Roberto Jones and the graphic design of Anniebelle Quattlebaum, captures that ineffable spark of wonder that insinuates itself throughout the book - even into the darkest corners.


Glitter Husk, with its unconventional structures ( Who would have thought to write a redacted elegy that looks like a page from the Mueller Report?), and raw confrontations, is a self-effacing lamentation on living in uncomfortably challenging spaces for body and mind:

 “Owning a body becomes unmiracled,” - from “hangover.”

Throughout the book, the reader is engaged in a search between the lines for that which shines.  What exactly is this luster that is sprinkled among the text?  Dressed in drag becomes a glitter sacrament.  A glitter husk is the fleeting joy of a firefly.  It is memory made translucent like an overly handled photograph.  We find it in drink, and in the epiphany that guilt is gilt.  Perhaps the glowing is hidden in bits and pieces among Goya’s black house and in his painting of Saturn Devouring his Son.  Maybe it can be teased out of the words and phrases that escape from blackened elegiac redactions, or in the stars one sees from the top of a Ferris wheel on the night of a county fair.  The glow, the glitter, is something that shines out as aliveness against all odds. 

May 10, 2021

Illustration Course and Chinese Calligraphy Course at Common Ground on the Hill


 I will be teaching the following online courses this summer:

https://www.commongroundonthehill.org/classes/gong-bi

https://www.commongroundonthehill.org/classes/chinese-calligraphy

Registration is open!    Chinese calligraphy in particular informs the manner in which I have been composing my figurative drawings and gong bi painting has been especially helpful in my book illustration designs.  So there is plenty to learn about eastern aesthetics, but  there are practical applications as well.

May 1, 2021

Paper and Steel Exhibition at the Orangeburg County FIne Arts Center: Big Man Dances


 The exhibition Paper and Steel has been hung and the show will be open to the public on May 5.  As usual, I had been working up to the last minute.  This last minute work involved a late night addition to the Big Man Dances portion in my series of calligraphic drawings of dancers in ink and charcoals.  These were painted just over a year ago but based upon sketches made at a live dance performance some decades before that.  Because the dancers were obviously not standing still to pose, my sketches were impressions of their movements.  I recall fondly that the dance director who was sitting next to me at the performance was so taken by these scribbles that she took me backstage after the show so I could, not without embarrassment on my part, show off my renderings to the dancers.  To my surprise, they were actually able to identify specific performers by just a few lines.  So that was fun.

In 2019, as I added charcoal and inks to these line drawings, I felt a certain familiar pathos about Big Man.  When I wrote about these drawings previously,  I left the identity of Big Man an unanswered question.  Then I had to put Big Man in a box with all the rest of the drawings, as the pandemic lock down began and everything was put on hold.  So I had a lot of time to reflect on what he might represent and why his image seemed to tug at my heart.

Yesterday, as I took the dancers out of their box and affixed them to the white backing paper, it suddenly occurred to me that Big Man looked like he was overly confined by the very picture plane he inhabited, almost coming alive to kick and prance his way out of his rectangular home. Ah!  That’s it!  He reminded me of a Chinese character.  There is a character that is a logical aggregate of parts, with a big man in a box and a heart underneath him.  I suppose this etiology means that we have feelings for those whose souls are simply too large for the constraints of their lives.  The word for this is empathy. 


 

So I carved some prints with the ancient Chinese character form for empathy and affixed them in red ink on the white backing paper.  Now Big Man was finally identified.   Unfortunately we ran out of room at the exhibition for the entire Big Man Dances series, but attendees can get a glimpse of him kneeling and kicking.  



April 27, 2021

Paper and Steel at the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center: A New Work

 

The exhibition Paper and Steel will be hung this Friday and open to the public May 5.  One of the latest and newest pieces I made for the exhibition is a drawing over an old abstract painting on mulberry paper.  The painting was essentially a monoprint using ink and alcohol to create swirling effects on what is often erroneously referred to as “rice paper.”  It was created several decades ago, was framed for an exhibition about thirty years ago, and had languished in my closet ever since.  It was time to bring the painting out from hiding and into the present.


The new drawing preserves much of the underpainting even though the entire context has been changed.  “Who was that Unmasked Man?,” is my new title for the strangely twisted face with thorny branches, riffing on The Lone Ranger question of my early childhood memory.  Here the simple face becomes a nightmare.  In fact, I found that I was not alone in having Covid-19 nightmares that generally entailed being next to a stranger without a mask.  


 The small coronaviruses in the picture were made with color pencil.  They were purposely made pale and understated.  The viewer would have to hunt around to spot them all.  “Who was that Unmasked Man,” like many of my paintings for this exhibition, can be read in more than one way, depending upon a person’s Covid perspective.  A person intimidated by science deniers, might understand the fear represented.  However, it would be possible for those who underplay the severity of our viral crisis to interpret the painting as overreaction and paranoia.  It will be interesting if two interpretative camps emerge at the upcoming exhibition.

April 22, 2021

Paper and Steel Four Person Exhibition at Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center New Work

 


Putting on an exhibition that has been on hold for over a year is like opening up a pre-pandemic time capsule.  In this time capsule lies the work of artists working in mostly black and white, stark forms that seem so well coordinated as a grouping.  Indeed it was planned that way, so that the entire exhibition would look like a well choreographed dance.

The new version of Paper and Steel, is mostly the same, but does introduce some modifications and current work.  How could we not be affected by the sea change of social unrest and a pandemic of biblical proportions?

My new work, “Killing One’s Brother with a Jawbone,” was created recently in response to social unrest, but also on a personal level, for my own unrest at having misplaced most of my drawings for this exhibition and wondering what I could do on short notice.  So I tore up an old drawing that I had made of Schiavone’s “Cain Murdering Abel” and superimposed the torn pieces onto an old abstract ink painting on mulberry paper.  The abstract painting had been done about thirty-five years ago and was languishing away in my closet in a frame that I wanted to use.  The torn drawing seemed to dovetail rather nicely with the old abstract painting, the swirling composition echoed by the swirling patterns of alcohol and ink.  



The title of the new work is a double entendre, with the secondary meaning having nothing to do with smuttiness, however.  In the original Andrea Schiavone painting, from which I had made a sketch on location in the mid 1990's, Cain is depicted striking Abel with a stag jawbone.  “Jawboning” is a phrase used to describe persuasion, pressure, or arm twisting verbal behavior.  Over the course of this pandemic year, I’ve often been wary of the use of language, especially if language hides malicious intent or stirs up hatred towards various groups of people.  The moment I placed the drawing on top of the painting, that sentiment was clarified. 

December 28, 2020

The Eclectic Art of Janet Kozachek: A Retrospective with an Ekphrastic Poetry Event

 The new year will be ringing in with an Ekphrastic Poetry Reading at 7PM on January 1 at my Retrospective at the Hampton Gallery Art Center in Hampton, SC.  Most of the art work that I make does involve narrative.  I believe that this encourages both the written as well as the spoken word.  The event will be available to folks both on and off Facebook via Zoom. Follow the link to their Facebook page: 

https://www.facebook.com/HamptonCountyArts/posts/425084445568291


"Naiad"  Mixed media mosaic with hand modeled pit fired face.