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Wild Faces Gallery offers animal art, picture framing

by Sylvia Olson
December 20, 2000

Their exotic faces peer at you snow leopards, macaws, giraffes, elephants. Their wild animal spirits shine through their eyes. Where are we - in some jungle? A zoo? No, we're in Rolfe, Iowa, at the newest business in town the Wild Faces Studio Gallery and Frame shop.

Mona Majorowicz and her husband Mike opened the gallery November 1, and have been pleased with the response to their offering. So far about two-thirds of the business has been in picture framing, and a third in sales of Mona's art.

Mona, a self-taught artist, creates "unique, up close portraits of wildlife and horses," working primarily with water-soluble colored pencils. The effect is stunning vivid and detailed images of individual animals who almost seem to come to life. The compositions are sophisticated, almost abstract in their balance of light and dark, but highly realistic as well.

"Wildlife is the only subject I feel passionate about," said Majorowicz. The passion is clear in her work, which she bases on personal encounters with the animals she portrays. "I love taking photographs of animals, and use these as the basis for my work," she said.

MONA GREW UP IN tiny (pop. 150) Marietta, Minn., in an artistic family, and spent her time riding horses, exploring nature, and drawing. A special teacher in high school encouraged her artwork, but she decided to study veterinary technology at National College in Rapid City, South Dakota, and worked at a vet clinic, horse stable, greyhound kennel, and Bear Country, a wildlife park, where she helped raise wolves, bears and mountain lions. Meanwhile, she kept drawing.

She met Mike, a Rolfe native, in Rapid City (he had also gone to National College), and they were married ten years ago. About the same time, she started using watercolors and colored pencil, and turned to art professionally, as a picture framer and animal portraitist. Mike made her a drafting table, and encouraged her to follow her dreams.

In 1995, the couple moved back to Rolfe, where Mike is an organic farmer with other members of his family. They raise organic oats, corn, hay, and soybeans which are used for making tofu. During the summers, Mona and Mike are busy with art shows all over the Midwest.

Mona's techniques are detailed and exacting, and she may complete only ten pictures a year. To expand her inventory, Mike (whose training was in computers and data processing) started producing quality prints of her animal portraits. So if you visit the gallery, you have the choice of purchasing an original work (ranging from $600-1200) or a print ($20-60), or even a card ($2, or 6 for $10). The prints are produced with archival inks, so they are just as vivid and long-lasting as the originals.

In addition to art shows and the new gallery, Mona's work is displayed at the Des Moines Zoo and at several galleries, including the Witter in Storm Lake, Arts on Grand in Spencer, Treloft Gallery in Fort Dodge, Eyes of Nature in Milford, Oscar Howe in Mitchell (SD), Whispering Pines in Deadwood (SD), and - one of Mona's favorite places in the world - the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in Hot Springs, SD. She hopes to expand to the Omaha and Denver zoos next year.

IT'S WORTH A TRIP to Rolfe to visit the Wild Faces Gallery. You'll feel like you have been on a safari to Africa (a future goal for Mona), and you may leave with a very special gift for yourself or another animal-lover. The gallery is just across the street from the Post Office, and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.

If you can't visit and want to browse, check out their website at www.ncn.net/~mmajorow.

RHS web site editor's note: Mike Majorowicz is a 1983 graduate of Rolfe High School.
Click on the photo of Mona and Mike for a larger image.

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