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Home cropped about us copyJanet Panabaker head shot

Janet Panabaker cites as her greatest creative influences the designer of the children's game Candy Land, the inventors of cash register buttons, the creators of linoleum, Mark Rothko, the painters of Dutch still life and trompe l'oeil, and the beauty of the Great Lakes.

For Janet, whose education includes a degree in Medieval Studies from the University of Waterloo, studies in Interior Design at Sheridan College, practical courses at institutions such as The StudioCorning Museum of Glass, an Art History degree from Queen’s University, and an MA in the History of Art from the University of Toronto, life would be very boring without colour. 

After years of producing and showing portraits and colourblock paintings at various venues, Janet started experimenting with glass, a medium with which she had been fascinated for years. Since the open flames of a glass furnace seemed a dangerous choice for her admittedly uncoordinated self, Janet took a course in fused glass and was immediately intrigued with the possibilities of this thoughtful layered process, especially once she discovered crushed glass, known as frit. Janet took more than two years to experiment and develop the colourblock aesthetic in glass, but while taking this break from showing her work she still managed to collect second place twice in the "OPS Conserves" Art Competition at the John Aird Gallery in Queen's Park: first for her painting "Clean Harvest," which was purchased for the Government of Ontario Archives, and again for her glass piece "Ghost Cars."

After years of making and showing her functional glass work ("Colourblock Glass") at venues large and small, Janet took up a fellow artisan’s challenge to make a glass fried egg. She followed this with bacon, then breakfasts of all kinds, before venturing into all sorts of other food items. She now uses these life-sized, multi-process and highly detailed “sculptural still lifes” (an extention, perhaps of an inherited Netherlandish love for hyper-realistic depictions) to investigate, comment upon, and record 20th- and 21st-century life. Renditions of a boxed lunch, Pop Tarts, and sugar cereals reflect her childhood as a guinea pig of the mass-produced food industry, and spark fond memories in viewers of a similar age. Pieces featuring Kraft Dinner and Hawaiian pizza are fond tributes to her husband’s sophisticated taste. A new series in progress, entitled “This Tea is CANCELLED,” documents the first year of COVID. While her work is currently shuttered by the pandemic, she looks forward to once again displaying her creations at venues such as the Gardiner Museum, Arta Gallery, the Noodle Gallery in Caledon, Ontario and the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition. Meanwhile, new and old works can still be found on Facebook and Instagram.

Janet also continues to produce the occasional painting or piece of painted furniture. Her hard-working and multi-talented husband David Lunman often takes time out from his busy life to build displays and frames, help at shows, and generally offer a lot of welcome support.

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