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Back in 1996, Arlington painter Barbara Januszkiewicz matched success with her unlikely 15 minutes of fame. Simply by starring in a segment for a German Television news program broadcast here on public television—where she was sandwiched between pieces on Joan Baez and the National Symphony Orchestra—she sold out a gallery show’s worth of paintings, she figures. The Germans trailed her from home to studio to opening reception, and she got to show the video during the run at the gallery. Flush with success, Januszkiewicz, an energetic woman now in her mid-30s, says that at the time she thought, “‘Gee, isn’t it easy to be an artist!’”
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A year later, with unsold canvases languishing in her studio, the mythic plight of the artist became reality. Hoping to re-create the success of her broadcast experience for other artists and to publicize her own career, she applied for an Arlington County grant to produce public-access shows about artists—in English, of course. The only problem: She had no TV credentials. Arlington denied her application.
Undeterred, Januszkiewicz figured she’d learn. A year of community TV classes later, she ended up walking away with the Arlington County’s Access Producer of the Year award in 1997 and began making Creative Vision—her series of 30-minute shows about D.C.-area artists. So far, she’s produced and directed 14 episodes—most of them paired 15-minute segments—that air on Arlington, Fairfax, and Alexandria cable TV. Shot on video and backed by string accompaniments or jaunty synthesized beats, the shows document Januszkiewicz visiting artists in their studios or at gallery openings. In the most recent episodes, the director has learned to remove herself from her work: “I want it to be less about Barbara, more about the artists,” she says.
Artist Lee Moyer of Laurel—whose resume includes a 1983 Alan Parsons Project video—had his 15 minutes of fame in Episode 8, shot last year. “I could have gone on for hours,” the artist says, by way of commending Januszkiewicz on her laid-back interview style.
Until August 15, Januszkiewicz is offering an open call for artists to submit slides and curricula vitae so she can consider them for future shows. For better or worse, she’s more interested in promoting the artists, she says, than judging the quality of their work: “I wanna even make bad art look good!”—Jessica Dawson