On a cloudy day in October, I visited the colourful home of the multi-talented visual artist and founder of the Yellow Balloon Tour, Minaz Jantz. Her home with tall windows and ceilings and olive green walls is full of Minaz’s art: geometric pen and ink drawings, quirky surreal still life pastels, various pet portraits, watercolours of dancing people and flowers, and nudes and mixed media collages incorporating embroidery and foils. The beauty of her work is that it is hard to categorize because her interests are so eclectic and wide-ranging. She is an explorer in everything creative, which makes her life and art a colourful, extraordinary collage.
Even geographically, Minaz’s life has had a wide scope. “I was made in Belgium,” she says, “born in Ottawa, and as an air force kid I lived in Europe, the States, and different parts of Canada.” She started drawing and creating as a teenager, influenced greatly by her crafty and artistic mother who ran a store, UCANDU Handicrafts, Gifts, and Arts, in the Okanagan in BC in the 1970s. Minaz worked there full-time. “I learned about every item we sold and then had to teach others too.” She also learned her mother’s entrepreneurial skills and her commitment to community and creativity.
But Minaz Jantz’s education is not limited to art. Though she studied drawing and painting at the Vancouver Art Academy and Fine Arts at the Okanagan College, she also studied Interior Design and modern and jazz dance in Calgary, and Auto Mechanics in Grande Prairie. She received her Bachelor of Business Math Sciences from the Devry Institute of Technology in Arizona. “I took my sketchbook to math classes and drew when I could,” she says.
When I ask Minaz how dance is related to her visual work, the collage overlaps. “Dance is the body’s way to draw and paint a picture, and has influenced my curvaceous drawing,” she says.
Her study of math also overlaps with her artwork. “I am always learning more about Sacred Geometry,” says Minaz, as geometric shapes and angles are the subject matter of abstract drawings. Then Minaz shows me more work: colourful, pointillist mandalas emerge to reveal more of the artist’s collage.
Minaz is also the author of Spinderella Soap, which she describes as “a book of collages and rhythmic story of a divorced woman exploring her creativity and creative voice.” The images are a combination, one could say, of Magritte, Dali, and Eve Ensler. Minaz has lots of plans for this book: it could become an animated film with music and acting, or with puppets. But I suspect her plans today could change next week. “Whatever is of interest,” she answers when I ask about her subject matter.
Despite her early exposure to art in her mother’s store, Minaz only made a serious commitment to making art in the 1990’s.”I finally gave in and said out loud….that I was to commit my life to the statement ‘I am an artist’,” says Minaz. Very recently that commitment coincided with the community involvement she learned from her mother. Talking with local artists on the Seaforth trail and in Musquodoboit Harbour convinced Minaz that a tour of Eastern Shore artists’ studios was a good idea. So the first Yellow Balloon Tour was born, an event that took place on a beautiful sunny October 1st with hundreds coming out to meet the 40 artists who participated. These artists were promoted on Minaz’s website, yet another collage by the colourful Minaz Jantz. Have a look at www.artgirlgallery.com