Friday, August 14, 2009

Judi Gorski Paints the Sunset


Judi A. Gorski remembers sitting backwards on her toilet, painting on a canvas propped against her bathroom wall while construction workers bustled through her home finishing renovations. Bringing food into her self-made studio, she would shut the door behind her for it was the only place of solace from the sounds of hammers and drills just feet away. This is just one of the stories she tells about her paintings which all have her own history embedded in them.

Her home, where she lives with her husband Steve and her dog is also her studio where she paints, and her gallery which rests on 48th Avenue facing the ocean. She openly invites anyone by appointment to come view the three floors of artwork she has on display in her home. Her warm, charismatic personality is not only evident when she talks passionately about her artwork while walking throughout her house in slippers, but also in the paintings themselves. She paints vibrant beach scenes which she holds close to herself because she grew up near the ocean.

Keeping her busy as an only child, Gorski remembers her parents giving her crayons during summers in Long Island. Becoming a likeable hobby, her childhood pastime matured into eclectic and colorful art of what she knows best: the beach.

“I was always swimming and by the beach. I would just sit in quiet and draw when I was young,” Gorski said shrugging her shoulders.

After her parents decided to move to Florida, they enrolled Gorski in the University of Miami. Feeling pressure from her parents to have a respectable major rather than art, she felt disillusioned by school and did not finish any classes besides art: the one thing that she was passionate about.

“I loved art classes, I got A’s, I knew that’s what I should be doing and that was of course the end of my parents giving me another nickel,” Gorski said laughing to herself.

Looking for fun at the age of 19, Gorski set out for a hitchhiking trip in the early 1970s with a few friends.

“It was such an adventure, I was not scared at all,” Gorski said with her eyes full of compassion as she talked about her hunt for magical mushrooms.

To make an income while hitchhiking, she did artwork on woodblocks until she ended up in San Francisco; there, her life really began. Deciding that the lifestyle she led was nothing she wanted to pursue any longer, she turned her life around. Working in a law office to make her parents happy, she met her husband Steve who encouraged her to pursue her passion of art.

She found herself marrying Steve and going back to school. At the age of 40, she excitedly invited everyone she knew to celebrate the completion of her schooling at San Francisco State University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in art in 1991. She opened her studio and gallery in her home, where she still lives today and has been happy ever since.

Gorski’s artwork, which reflects Ocean Beach, includes everything from waves to locals; neighbors and strangers who surf and walk on the beach.

Pointing to a painting of a woman named Judith standing in a swim suit and washing herself down with water, she cheerfully explains how Judith is a body surfer and well known on the Great Highway.

“She promised to give me body surfing lessons if I gave her painting lessons,” Gorski said while laughing at the thought of such a youthful and wild activity.
Another painting in her home, which is the one she sat backwards on her toilet working on, is a favorite of faithful buyer Jim Dekker.

Dekker, who is 58 years old and a teacher in San Francisco, has been a collector with his high school sweetheart Lorraine, for the past seven years. He says that Gorski’s work is very sentimental to him and his wife because they grew up in the Sunset District and both love the beach.

“Because of our backgrounds, her work touches many memories, experiences, sights, smells and sounds,” said Dekker. “We loved her work from the very first, and we love the way she has treated us. She has welcomed us into her home, and we are proud to think of her as ‘our artist.’

Noticeable to many locals who live in the Ocean Beach area, Gorki’s artwork has become quite familiar. Her work was featured in Java Beach Café for a number of years and is now hanging on the walls of Wise Surfboards for sale; it was even featured in Pottery Barn advertisements. Gorski also worked on the renovation of the Ortega Branch Library Mural with the original artist and has donated some of her artwork to schools and organizations.

“I feel like I am doing good in the world…and I am a vegetarian again,” said Gorski proudly smiling to herself. “I want to go out of this world better than I came in.”

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