Janna Zuber said she wanted to provide an artistic haven in Bowie, so she donated money and her art toward the creation of the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts.
Now the center she helped build will house her artwork as the Mitchellville artist puts on her biggest solo show in Bowie.
Zuber, 61, of Mitchellville, said she will have about 15 pieces or more on display in the center throughout June, and the artist said the center has a special place in her heart.
Zuber lost her son, Justin, 16, to inhalant abuse in 2002, and donated money in his name to help the center reach its fundraising goal. After avoiding painting for a couple of years after her son’s death, Zuber has been back to the easel for the last decade and with a strong push in the last year.
“We are a society that is losing touch with the arts,” Zuber said. “We are so lucky to have this here. I am just honored to have the opportunity to have my work there.”
Mary Nusser, Bowie Center for the Performing Arts front house coordinator, said she is excited to have Zuber’s works on display in the center.
“She is such a gifted person,” Nusser said. “She has a wonderful spirit. It breathes a different kind of life into the facility.”
Zuber said it was difficult for her to start painting pictures again after her son died. She said her work before his death was more realistic pictures of people, but after his death she found herself painting dark emotions and her work became abstract. But now Zuber said her work is more positive, starting in chaos which shifts based on her positive, spiritual inspiration and emotions.
“I don’t want paintings to be about me,” Zuber said. “It is about the universal feelings we have about life.”
Lorraine Warner, president of the Bowie Guild of Artists, said she has seen some of Zuber’s work in smaller shows, such as the Bowie Branch Library.
“Her paintings definitely reflect the feelings at the time,” Warner said. “Her emotions come out in her artwork very easily. I’ve seen her art and they are stupendous.”
Zuber said she hasn’t assembled all of the work she hopes to display at the center. She said she hopes to mix things up, providing several different media of work like oils or acrylic paints, but her end goal is to make people feel something.
Zuber’s paintings will be on sale during the show, and while Zuber said she doesn’t do the art for money, she added there is something special about a stranger appreciating her art enough to spend between $250 to $900, the typical price range for Zuber’s work.
“I’m hoping when someone buys an abstract, they can feel the many levels I am throwing myself into,” Zuber said. “There is so much pain and suffering in this life ... I want a painting to transport someone to a good spot if possible.”