Art award for 'unique' perspective

10:48, Jan 28 2009
'UP THERE': Queenstown artist Jenny Majeske, who has scooped a $10,000 national art award, works on her latest piece with model and artist friend Sandra McElrea yesterday.

A rookie Queenstown-based artist has scooped the $10,000 first prize in a national painting competition for her work depicting the world as seen through the eyes of a little girl with Down syndrome.

American Jenny Majeske's small 18cm-square painting Samantha's World sold for $1400 at the Whakatane Summer Arts Festival last week immediately after it scooped the prestigious Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award at the event. "It's a portrait of my cousin, Samantha, a little girl with Down syndrome. I was thinking about her world vision ... it's my attempt at how she sees the world," New Jersey-raised Majeske said.

The competition attracted more than 200 entries, with only 66 selected to be exhibited during the festival. Prizemoney for the award has more than doubled in the past few years.

"They said lots of nice things about my work that I hadn't noticed myself," Majeske said.

The 39-year-old took up painting only four years ago and fellow Queenstown artist Sandra McElrea said she instantly spotted a unique talent in Majeske's work.

"I just knew she was going to be right up there," McElrea said.


The award is Majeske's second major prize in less than a year she also won the inaugural Aspiring Art Award's $5000 prize last year.

Majeske said she learned some of the basics painting with a well-known New Jersey artist "down the street" for several years as a youngster. She said she mostly painted realism, with a splash of abstract, and her main subjects were people and symbolism.

Majeske, who mostly paints commission pieces for local and tourist clients, was now focusing on getting her work exhibited in high places. "I'm really shooting to get galleries in Auckland, Wellington, Melbourne and New York."

In the meantime, her work is regularly exhibited at Queenstown's Cloakroom Gallery and at Art Upstairs in Wanaka.


The Southland Times