Wellsville transplant finds inspiration along the river | News, Sports, Jobs


Gigi Janko stands in front of the remains of several burnt-out structures as she dismantles along Riverside Avenue in Wellsville for a longitudinal artwork. (Review Special/Stephanie Ujhelyi)

WELLSVILLE — Two years ago, a young woman was looking for adventure and found it while browsing real estate listings online.

Gigi Janko never expected that she would find herself tearing through the remains of fire-ravaged structures a block from City Hall to assemble her latest work of art.

Not too bad for a woman who had gone back to school, graduating from college at 17, after having to drop out in seventh grade.

“I had a somewhat unconventional educational experience” she recalls as she sat at a picnic table by the river. She recounted how, several years after dropping out of high school, she enrolled in the inaugural year of a pilot program at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Barrington, Mass. a huge emphasis on the student’s love of learning and academics. Although she began with the pursuit of mathematics, Janko found her true calling in the study of fine arts – especially dance and ceramics.

The college is proud to allow students to “explore the subjects they love” unlike conventional colleges.

This city block by the river, which serves as a canvas for Gigi Janko, is only a few blocks from the Wellsville Fire Department, where she serves as a volunteer firefighter. Janko came to Wellsville several years ago after finding several burnt structures online and buying them, including an abandoned church on the left (which serves as an indoor studio of sorts) and the burnt structure on the right. Unafraid to get her hands dirty most of the time, she can be found dismantling the scorched structures and arranging the pieces in this canvas foreground, where they will eventually end up in her latest diary presentation. longitudinal art. (Review Special/Stephanie Ujhelyi).

Before moving to Wellsville two years ago, she had worked as a semi-professional dancer in New York. Once here, she joined the Wellsville Volunteer Fire Department, where she is currently live completing her project.

She described this latest work as a longitudinal sculpture, which includes objects salvaged from properties across several blocks in Wellsville.

“I didn’t really have a direction for my next project; however, I found this ad online and the price was right,” she says.

After visiting Wellsville and seeing the properties along Riverside Avenue, she decided to go there.

In addition to the large-scale visible pieces that will eventually be included in the sculpture, she acknowledged that there are some other pieces that represent a very large cross-section that she will include in the final product. This could include photos, fabrics and ceramic tiles made from 3D prints as well as a conversation recorded over the past year with her mother, Cressey Belden.

These pieces of charred debris are laid out in front of this burnt structure along Riverside Avenue in Wellsville by artist Gigi Janko with precision as she seeks to incorporate them into her latest sculpture. (Review Special/Stephanie Ujhelyi)

Whether it’s wood or bricks from his properties – many fires have ravaged – objects will find their way into the sculpture. She owns properties at 103 11th St., 1021 Riverside Ave. (where she expects the work to be located), 1034 and 1036 Main St. and 402 Ninth St., according to the Columbiana County Auditor’s website.

Janko uses the former Church of the Immaculate Conception, which she also owns, as a makeshift studio. Looking around the interior of the church are beautiful stained glass windows that remind visitors of its former life as well as palettes filled with art history slides, melted down DVDs that survived the fire and power tools.

She had never imagined that she would master them one day.

“When I came here, I didn’t even know how to use a drill. Now you see me almost every day (wielding) a crowbar and a hammer,” she added.

His working title for his project is “Satisfied Bulimia” which includes not only the remains presented in the final sculpture, but the whole “performance,” which includes inventory of diets, ingredients, games, essential oils, religions, photos and games as well as ceramic tiles made from 3D prints.

Artist Gigi Janko admires the stonework inside one of the charred structures she dismantles by hand as part of her latest sculpture at her waterfront resort in Wellsville. (Review Special/Stephanie Ujhelyi)

Embarkation guests will stay in the nearby White House until the end of the show, enjoying open tea with the baked goods generated by the show, where she will prepare recipes selected from as many different sources as she can find. .

“First of all, I would like to say that I don’t do autobiographical art. It is made of the world but is a world in its own right. All components are part of the sculpture. Performance is the life of the sculpture – like its pulse,” she concludes. “Basically, all the elements make up the anatomy of the sculpture. I am a sculptor.

Janko hopes to complete the work in the fall of 2023.

Artist Gigi Janko works inside a nearby church structure in Wellsville, where she stores some of her materials from the outside elements. (Review Special/Stephanie Ujhelyi)

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