Jennifer Szczyrbak, sculptor, painter and scribbler, as she describes herself, has an art studio in lieu of a breezeway attaching the back of the house to the garage. The entryway to her studio is a conglomeration of bench, baskets filled with hats and gloves and umbrellas, an array of shoes, an occasional fishing rod or two and hooks for jackets that don’t always get hung. Upon entering, one realizes this is a family home first, an art studio second.
Over the last 31 years, Jennifer and her husband Kevin have cared for many children including their own four, three of which are now grown and married adding daughters, sons and grandchilden to the fold. Jennifer, having a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UWSuperior, intended on becoming a freelance artist from the day she graduated. She was in small galleries, art fairs, and even held an individual art show in her community. Once family took precedent, she set her art career on the back-burner but never let it go out. To make ends meet, she started a home daycare and eventually became a licensed foster-care provider. She and her husband parented just under 30 teen boys in 12 years and found the job of opening their home and sharing their family to be both heart-warming and heart-breaking.
Jennifer stayed busy with the kids, but took advantage of every moment she could to create. She would often sacrifice sleep and find solace in creating in peace in the late evening hours. Over the years, she managed to complete many works. Her emphasis in college was painting and her studio walls are filled with brightly colored and some highly textured paintings that reflect her love of gardening. Making sculptures is her favorite medium. Driftwood overflows out of plastic tubs that line the walls of her studio. It is scattered on the floor and on the tables. Driftwood has added a nice complementary touch to her vibrant paintings with it's many variations of beige.
Driftwood as a medium was a blessed discovery several years ago. Kevin and Jennifer hired a sitter for the kids and took a get-away date walking along the beach of Lake Superior. It was there that Jennifer found a large piece of water-logged wood that she insisted would look “just perfect” in her flower garden. Her husband with an "As you wish" frame of mind told her to "Wait here" while he carried it over a mile back to the car. Anticipating his return for what grew into a long time, Jennifer began noticing the many small pieces of driftwood scattered on the shore and marveled at all the different shapes. One resembled a moose snout, another antlers, and so she became inspired to make a little moose right there in the sand before he returned. Upon seeing the footlong moose, Kevin was greatly impressed and encouraged her to bring it home to showcase in an upcoming art studio tour. There too, the driftwood moose was a hit! She decided to continue playing with the intriguing washed up sticks and has made over 150 large and small driftwood creations ever since.
Jennifer participated in the art studio tour for five years. The exposure gained her recognition from the local newspaper. Word soon spread and Fox 21 News out of Duluth came to see her studio, Cabin Life featured her art in their magazine and then The Playlist, Minnesota Bound, Finding Minnesota and The Lift all came by to do more extensive stories on Jennifer’s driftwood art. As the children have grown up, and the house on Lakeshore Drive has become less active, Jennifer has broadened her range by exploring other opportunities where she can show her work.
Besides her online gallery, Jennifer is now featured at The Dow Art Gallery in St. Paul and Smith and Trade Mercantile in Stillwater, MN. *Lake Place Gallery is now only open upon advance request. Jennifer's gallery is now more or less a working studio. Catch her on the right day and she may be home, but better yet please call ahead or email so she can prepare for your visit. Thank you!
Lake Place Gallery: 218-485-4907 \ firstname.lastname@example.org