— From the pages of FLL#37 • Photos by Bianca Cordova
A rush of warm, arid air brushed across my face as I entered “Through the Fire Studios.”
The red, hot glow from the kiln was a signal that the glass blowing class offered by the studio was about to begin. Artist Janette Toth-Musser greeted me shortly after I arrived, and as we made our way back to her studio, I thought of how warm the kiln must keep the gallery on cold, blustery days. Janette’s studio is located at the rear of the building and is her own working gallery in which she has lovingly displayed her paintings on the walls and floor, each with its own story and emotion to convey.
Janette grew up in a suburb of Pittsburgh. She developed a fondness for painting and ceramics in high school and, encouraged by her art teacher, enrolled in the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Upon graduation, she landed a job in advertising at a department store in Minneapolis and later moved to Lancaster where she worked at the Pennsylvania School of Arts in Marietta [now PCAD in Lancaster]. She met several artists there and thoroughly enjoyed the creative environment.
After working as a fashion illustrator for a national department store chain, she joined the Art Association of Harrisburg and held her first exhibit in 1990. It was there where she befriended noted impressionist painter, Charles “Li” Hidley. Janette found his guidance and assistance invaluable. He instructed Janette to embrace imperfection, to trust herself more, and to find a balance in her color and form. She took his advice and made it part of her painting process.
In 2005, she was delighted to be asked to work on large-scale murals for both the Antique Auto Club of Hershey and Bass Pro Shops. She was also asked to lend her talent to scenic paintings for the American Music and Dutch Apple Theatres.
Janette has enjoyed a lifetime of a variety of artistic expressions. Her work reflects her quiet impressionistic intent, with her soft yet expressive strokes, balancing together with incredible form and color.
And the result is stunningly beautiful. Her work is currently being displayed at the Governor’s Mansion and she has just completed a dynamic piece for Lancaster City Hall entitled “The Genius of Liberty,” which will be displayed until March 1, 2016.
Janette Toth-Musser has developed her art as both a scenic and canvas painter, and a muralist.