If you listen to longtime residents — or read “06880” — you probably think Westport has lost its artistic mojo. With Howard Munce gone — and apart from Miggs Burroughs — when was the last time you heard of a home studio?
Happily, there’s at least one left.
The other day I visited Mina de Haas in her small, 2nd-floor apartment. There — in the shadow of I-95 — she creates acrylic paintings, decoupage and digital collages. She’s not our only in-home artist — but she sure seems a throwback.
A 1979 Weston High School graduate (and direct descendant of the famous Dutch landscape-paining Koekkoek family) who studied fashion merchandising at the University of Bridgeport, Mina worked as a graphic artist for advertising firms and a pharmaceutical company before joining a Norwalk market research company.
But this story is about her studio.
Heavily influenced by Dali, Picasso, Warhol and — especially Hieronymus Bosch — Mina wants her art to make people feel a bit uncomfortable.
“Anyone can look at a pretty picture of a sailboat,” she says. “I want people to look at my work and wonder ‘What’s going on there?’ And make their own interpretation of what my artwork means to them personally.”
She points to a 3D work called “Stripper Barbie.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: the famous doll in a cage with a stripper pole. Crumpled bills lie on the floor.
She is an expert at taking existing paintings, photos and other images, and manipulating them in new ways — for example, in her interpretation of Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights.”
A favorite subject is cars. She looks at their lines and angles in fresh ways, placing familiar vehicles in intriguing and innovative contexts.
One of Mina’s favorite paintings is “Seine River Bleeds.” Done right after November’s Paris attacks, the famed river is bright red. The lights of the Eiffel Tower look like the souls of the murdered victims.
Mina de Haas is not well known. She exhibited in a small local gallery, and will soon show several pieces at a UB alumni art show.
She hopes to get into a Westport Arts Center emerging artists exhibit. She’d love to sell through restaurants and retail stores here.
Mina does not think there is a real “artistic community” in Westport — at least, not one she feels part of it.
But she’s undeterred.
She does what she loves. In her 2nd floor apartment studio, she creates art.
Just as Westport artists have done, for well over a century.
(To see more of Mina de Haas’ work, click here.)