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Meet Jim Kociuba of Jim Kociuba – Art in Cambridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jim Kociuba.

Jim, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I always found it easier to express myself though making art. As a child, I was constantly drawing. Crayons became my medium of choice at that time. I also found it rewarding to encourage other children to express themselves by making art. My first grade teacher was less than impressed when she returned to the classroom to find that I had organized a beautiful class drawing project that included fabulous crayon renderings on paper, desktops and walls. Remarkably, my mother was calm when she was summoned to to the principals office. Without anger, we scrubbed up the masterpiece and from then on there was always plenty of paper and crayon available for me at home.

That combination of making art and teaching art became constant in my life. My high school was experimenting with modular flexible scheduling, which meant that I had structured classes for half of the day and could pursue my own interest during the rest of the day. Art making and mural painting quickly absorbed every free minute.

I studied studio art, art history and art education at Rhode Island College and Rhode Island School of Design. I was fortunate to find an art teaching position in Hopkinton, NH. The 31 years there were challenging as well as rewarding. My students were remarkably focused and created amazing art work. The teachers and administrators there were the most dedicated individuals I have ever known. When I started teaching, I thought that I would have time at night to work on my own art but found that the teaching prep was all too consuming. Summers were when I could focus on making my own art – and those 7 weeks each year, were a mix of frantic starts and that luxurious focused time of getting lost in moving paint on canvas.

In 2012, with the support of my husband Gordie and a small pension from teaching, I was able to pursue painting full time. We moved from rural NH to a converted garage in North Cambridge. A perfect place to make art and live. I joined NoCA (North Cambridge Artists group) and connected with a great group of visual artist, writers and performers. I joined the Cambridge Art Association and was connected with more opportunities and a fantastic group of visual artists.

I started by setting up an easel in Cambridge Common and by the Charles River and did a series of site studies and paintings. Hanging out with an easel around the square can attract the attention of some of the more interesting inhabitants. The architecture around Harvard can be a bit overwhelming. I also started to explore the wetlands and watershed area just north of the Alewife T Station.

My subject matter shifted from city views to the trees in wetlands and the trees outside my window and from my memory from New Hampshire. I found myself focused on the simplicity and emotional connection with nature. Birch tree trunks and the abstract impression of backlit leaves became a motif or maybe obsession.
The Japanese language has a single word to describe light that filters through the leaves of trees. The word is Komorebi and that is where my current painting seems to be settling at the moment.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Painting is always a challenge on some level. It sometimes feels like playing a concert to an empty theatre. Selling art in the Boston area can be challenging. There is a market for very well established artist. There is a market for mass produced or limited edition prints. My painting is not falling into either of these categories.

I do juried group exhibitions at galleries and local art associations, which is wonderful exposure. Through the Cambridge Arts Commission and other sources, I have rented my paintings to local hospitals and offices. I have found that this exposure has been most productive for income. Often, the clients and staff have reached out to me to purchase paintings.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Jim Kociuba – Art – what should we know?
I paint images that hopefully brings people closer to the outdoors. Or, maybe create a sense of a window where urban architecture has been forced to build a wall.

I rent and sell these paintings.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
All of my teachers and mentors along the way. My husband, Gordie has been very supportive and our dog, Hope has been downright demanding – if I’m not in the studio painting by 8am, she growls at me until I get up there with brush in hand. I just joined Instagram about a month ago and have been getting and giving encouragement from artist and art lovers.

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