Bright colours, whimsical images. Maria Pezzano describes her work as "A
land that I go to to escape the world around me". This is a joyful land,
where bright bananas perch precariously on the stems of flowers. A place
where there are mermaids and magic.

Maria, born in Guelph, had graduated from Fanshawe College and started a
Fine Art degree at the University of Guelph when she decided she just
wanted to paint. After several more years of trying to paint while working
at a job full time, she moved in with her parents and started to paint.
Seven years later, she is still painting full time - but not still living
with her parents - she has become that rare being, an artist who can make a
living by her art.

Maria's murals grace the walls of such well known downtown Guelph
establishments as the Diana Restaurant, Jimmy Jazz and Thomas Video &
Entertainment. Her more "portable" works are in private collections around
Guelph and around the world.

Her paintings are instantly recognizable. She loves yellow. This is the
first colour she puts down on the canvas: "The yellow background confronts
the viewer - here is yellow, deal with yellow." It was in 1991 that Maria
started using the colours that now are such an intrinsic part of her art,
what she describes as "the tension of colour beside colour, pattern beside
pattern," and the balance they achieve. In her paintings she seeks to
capture "the moment before chaos?just before the teacup falls."

For all the whimsy, this is a serious, focused artist. While "the best
compliment is when somebody wants to buy something," she also is clear that
"what the public says ultimately doesn't matter. It's me and the canvas and
the paint, that interaction is what matters." Art is something that is
frequently misunderstood: "Society tells us that art is a luxury, not a
necessity... it doesn't teach us to appreciate art." She is proud of having
her work in public places where it can touch people - maybe a little, maybe a lot.

The medium can have its pitfalls though. The murals painted for the now
defunct Paradiso restaurant were painted over when a pub opened in the same
location. "It's an ongoing struggle between art and business.? You have to
have a perspective on your own work.? ultimately it is a job - you've been paid, you go on."

Maria works hard at the business of art. She welcomes the Art-in-Guelph web
site as long overdue. "I like what Doug (Art-in-Guelph's creator) is doing.
He's bringing our artwork to people who don't know that we are here."
Maria, with 7 other people, has opened the Art Etcetera gallery in the
Matrix building, at the corner of Woolwich and Eramosa. Open Thursday,
Friday and Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, this is a place where people can buy art.

Maria knows that she will always paint, that she HAS to paint. When asked
what she would like to be doing in five years she answers with a laugh: "I
want to be selling more paintings at a higher price."

Joanne Bruce, January 1998.