Gaines work on display at joeygs
retiree still painting at age 76
(May 2005) Have confidence! are
favorite words of advice from the painter who signs herself M.
Migoet. She believes that artists should feel confident
and free enough to do whatever type of work they like.
by Laurel Sparks
church in Madison
and a boy are two subjects in Krysia Gaines paintings on
the wall at joeys in May.
M. Migoets real name is Krysia Gaines. A 76-year-old
mother of three and grandmother of four, she has lived in Madison with
her husband, Vernon, for nearly a decade. An exhibition of her art is
currently on the wall at joeygs Restaurant and Nightclub in downtown
As a young woman, Gaines began signing her paintings M. Migoet
on the advice of an agent in Beverly Hills, Calif. In those days,
she explains, art sold better if they thought you might be a man.
Her choice of the French Migoet as a painting name is also
unusual because Gaines grew up in Chicagos Polish neighborhoods.
But to this day, she remains Migoet. She has kept the name
because it is how people have always recognized her as an artist.
During the early years of the 20th century, Gaines father was
a respected member of the Polish Community in Chicago. He owned a tavern
and wrote a regular column for a Polish-language newspaper. At age 14,
Gaines began painting murals by creating one for her fathers business.
By age 18, she was drawing cartoons to illustrate the newspaper column.
Though young Gaines earned a scholarship to study at the Chicago Academy
of Fine Arts, financial problems forced her to drop out. The late l930s
found her father writing a popular radio program, and then the family
decided to form its own theater troupe to perform in Polish communities
throughout the United States. In l956, Gaines accompanied her parents
and older sister, Danita, to Hollywood.
Gaines says she felt her dream had come true when her artwork
was discovered by the agent Harry Soicher. By l962, she had begun meeting
a demand for colorful primitives. These paintings became
so popular with the interior decorators of Palm Springs that she had
three one-person shows at Sloans of Beverly Hills. Paintings that werent
sold were often rented.
photo of Krysia Gaines
was taken in her early years.
One found its way onto the set of a l971 Clint Eastwood
film titled, Play Misty for Me. Among the celebrities who
purchased Gaines paintings were Bob Newhart, Kaye Ballard, U.S.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Greer Garson. Later, Garson donated her Gaines
murals to the Childrens Hospital in Palm Springs.
On exhibit at joeygs are some street scenes and about 15 portraits.
The street scenes are in Gaines primitive style, a
method influenced by the French impressionists. There are two large
paintings of scenes in Historic Madison. One depicts an antique store
and surrounding shops on Madisons Main Street. The second, titled,
Church on Mulberry Street, has lively colors and many vertical
lines emphasizing the height of the church.
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