Madeline Meza Janovec
(draft v. 2, 3/5/11, written for her memorial, but i couldn’t read it. i wouldn’t have been able to hold it together.)
Madeline Meza Janovec changed the world. I know you know what I mean, even if you met her once or never met her. It’s the truth. It is hard to talk about her in the past tense. She was always so present, so honest. She had this incredible vibrancy – the kind that’s so strong you can feel if from across town, from across the country, from across the world.
She changed the world. Made it better for artists and women and human beings. Without her tireless and passionate contributions the world would not be the same. She strove in all of her dealings to make art a viable lifestyle and career for women. This is a tough fight, but Madeline’s unwavering support for it drove cultural change.
She taught art in schools and colleges in the Pacific Northwest. She taught things like found object jewelry. Incredible, inspiring and creative things that each of her students are still benefitting from today. She taught drawing and painting. She mentored more of us than I will ever know, just by being herself and welcoming us into her life.
She was the center of a huge community of artists. She brought feminism, art and compassion together in Oregon and kept at it. She has supported the furthering of women’s art in the global and regional culture. It’s revolutionary, really. She had this beautiful and unstoppable passion for art. This passion, this teaching, this inspiring us to be the best artists and people that we can be. And that the combination of those are things to celebrate, even in tough times. With champagne.
I am so lucky to have known her, however briefly. Only 5 years. Her impact on my life is measureless. I am very lucky to call her my friend. She has a huge spot in my heart – since the first day I met her. She could not have been a better accidental mentor. I am so lucky to have sat with her in her garden. To have helped her frame her beautiful prints. So lucky to have been able to help her with her computer. I am lucky to have hung out in her gallery and studio with her. I am so lucky to have been able to show my art in her gallery, and have my art in so many group shows here and elsewhere involving her.
I am lucky in so many more ways than this, to have known Madeline Meza Janovec. She helped me in countless ways. And that was just how she was. She introduced me to the CEO of a museum in New York, and I had lunch with her. She introduced me to a huge network of women in Oregon and ultimately across the world. She introduced me to parts of myself that I didn’t know (her provocation to be the treasurer of the OWCA helped me get math back, something I’d given up on in 5th grade). And she just did those things effortlessly. They were natural to her.
She is and will always be one of my primary inspirations. A hero. She proved to me that art is lifelong, more than anyone else ever has. I know lots of artists. Lots of people that have made art their life work. Madeline’s dedication to art was unwavering. Through whatever else was happening.
She was simply amazing. She built houses without power tools. She sharpened her own matte-cutting knives with a stone. She had an active art gallery and made jewelry, drew and painted into her 70s. And she guided the art world through her graceful and passionate life.
Read a little about her wonderful life at the links below, or if you have information to share a group of us is going to write a book about her, so please let me know and I’ll get you in the loop.