This painting is just one of many pieces of art by Dr. Danie Janov that will be on display at the Montgomery Museum beginning Thursday.

The new art exhibit opens at the Montgomery Museum Thursday.

Montgomery Museum’s Lewis Miller Regional Art Center will feature an exhibit by artist and educator Dr. Danie Janov during the months of September and October.

With undergraduate and graduate degrees in art and art education, few people in this region have stronger credentials in the creative arts than Janov. After a career teaching art at the college level, she can still recall the time in the third grade when she realized she had a gift for art. She states, “My class mates were always asking me to draw pictures for them. They had difficulty drawing, but it came easy to me.”

She continues by relating another story from that time: “We were each given a box of crayons at the beginning of the school year. I loved my crayons and took good care of them. Soon after the school year began, I was absent for several days with an illness. When I returned I noticed my classmates’ crayons were mostly broken. I thought I had missed something so I broke my crayons to make them look like those of the other students’. Later the teacher brought in a brand new, deluxe box of crayons with unusual colors like magenta. I was crushed when I discovered that it was to be awarded to the student with the best cared for crayons. But there was a lesson in that …” Before she can explain, Janov begins to talk about her new exhibit: “Vestiges”.

Four years in the making, Janov’s exhibit is what she terms part of a progression. She explains, “About ten years ago I went from a highly productive phase of my life to producing no art at all as the result of a tragic personal loss.” After relocating to the New River Valley from her home in North Carolina to be near family, a gift from an artist friend rekindled her artistic drive.

She relates, “The gift was a book by Steven Aimone called ‘Expressive Drawing’ which dealt with simply making lines. I made it a goal to push those lines as much as I could. In the past my work was rooted in what I saw. But now I create based on my thoughts and feelings. I spend more time thinking about the symbols and conveyance of a concept than I do in the physical process of painting.”

Janov’s first solo exhibit after her return to art was a show called “Evanescence”, referring to the quality of vanishing or fading as in the memories of people or objects lost. She states, “ ‘Vestiges’ is a natural progression of this theme since it refers to the remnants of life change, either by circumstance or choice, and the adjustments required in our rapidly changing world.”

Janov points out, “One part of the exhibit is a series of small paintings focusing on tools of the trade that are becoming obsolete.” She points to an abstract painting of scissors stating, “Graphic designers once spent much of their time literally cutting and pasting. Now it is all done with a few key strokes on a computer. Objects that have been in use for hundreds of years are falling into disuse, for example, keys. The last car I bought did not even come with a key.”

Viewers of “Vestiges” will see many large works containing figures, familiar objects and symbols, several of which recur from painting to painting. Janov’s abstractions rely heavily on color to convey her message. One painting can evoke a profound sense of sadness while another, containing many of the same elements, will convey a feeling of hope simply by her careful manipulation of color. Janov works primarily in mixed watermedia and collage.

Looking back on her career teaching and creating art Janov is thankful for the many good friends she has made. She remarks, “Some of them create for the purpose of satisfying designers. They are marketers. In contrast, I am always surprised when someone buys my art. My art is personal. I don’t paint with the intention of selling.”

Perhaps Janov has finally summed up her story about the broken crayons: it is always best to listen to your own heart rather than to follow the crowd. Therein lies a major reason for her success as an artist.

The public is invited to a reception at the Montgomery Museum on 300 Pepper Street in Christiansburg on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

— Fred Jones

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