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Ukrainian-born artist Irene Pomirchy spreads joy through her paintings

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As birds serenade commuters on Higuera Street, artist Irene Pomirchy takes in the natural beauty of a winter afternoon in downtown SLO.

From the vibrant green and red leaves on the California sycamore hanging over the rushing creek to the clay tiles lining the roofs of local businesses, Irene finds inspiration in myriad places, painting images filled with the joy and celebration of everyday life.

VIBRANT RESILANCE Irene displays her pieces (oil on linen) For Ukraine (right) and Freedom (left) which represent the resilience of her home country in the face of their current crisis combined with the beautiful nature found across SLO county. - PHOTOS BY ADRIAN ROSAS
  • Photos By Adrian Rosas
  • VIBRANT RESILANCE Irene displays her pieces (oil on linen) For Ukraine (right) and Freedom (left) which represent the resilience of her home country in the face of their current crisis combined with the beautiful nature found across SLO county.

"The location doesn't matter," Irene said. "When I paint, my ideal sounds are the ones in nature: things like a light breeze, birds chirping, and the ocean breathing."

For her entire life, the Ukrainian-born painter has maintained a dedication to this mindset. Some of her work is featured at SLO Gallery, where she hangs paintings from her studio, Joyful Art.

Her art often results from spontaneous inspiration, starting as quick sketches before Irene brings them to life with oil or watercolor focusing on the balance, flow, and texture of colors and subjects.

"Each painting has a soul, and I think that's what attracts people," said Irene's husband, Gennady Pomirchy. "There's just so much expression, you can really feel the human touch."

Irene's journey into the world of art has been lifelong, starting at her birth in Kiev, Ukraine, where she feels the love of her country inspired her to get into art.

SPREAD THE JOY From left to right: Sakura in Bloom, Pink Peonies, and Red Sea (oil on linen) are featured along the walls as part of Irene's contributions to Old SLO BBQ's community art efforts. - PHOTOS BY ADRIAN ROSAS
  • Photos By Adrian Rosas
  • SPREAD THE JOY From left to right: Sakura in Bloom, Pink Peonies, and Red Sea (oil on linen) are featured along the walls as part of Irene's contributions to Old SLO BBQ's community art efforts.

"I had a passion for painting and drawing since my early childhood," she said with a chuckle. "I guess you could say I was born with it."

Irene attended Kiev Art Academy, earning her art degree alongside a civil engineering degree from Kiev Industrial College and Brynask University of Technology before moving to the East Coast in 1991, settling down in Marlboro, New Jersey, to focus on raising three sons with her husband.

"I come from a different world than her; I'm an IT guy," Gennady said. "I can't draw much of anything, but that's really allowed me to appreciate the humanity and passion present in all of the work she has painted in the 30 years we have lived together."

During her time on the East Coast, Irene sporadically painted, contributing art to places like the Manhattan-based Agora Gallery and Brooklyn-based Monmouth Museum, CVA Gallery, and Art Alliance, alongside personal art shows and exhibitions at Monmouth County buildings.

"My art is always evolving and shifting," Irene said. "I was trained to emulate and utilize classical art techniques, but I found my travels enhanced my style in a way that makes it stand out more."

As the years passed and her sons grew up, Irene found the time to pursue art full time. With a move to Nipomo in 2021, she began to incorporate her years of travel with the natural beauty present in her new home.

"Outside of my studio, my ideal place to paint was always a garden surrounded by blooming flowers and trees, but when we moved to California I found the ever-changing vineyards and lavender fields," she said. "The moment I pick up a brush, I am transported to another dimension."

In addition to her SLO Gallery exhibits, her work has been featured at the SLO Botanical Garden, Santa Barbara's Faulkner Gallery, and Old SLO BBQ, where her paintings currently decorate the walls as part of the restaurant's community program to raise money for nonprofit art organizations.

SIMPLE SERENITY Blue Barn epitomizes Irene's goal of bringing joy out of the simple surroundings found throughout SLO county. - PHOTOS BY ADRIAN ROSAS
  • Photos By Adrian Rosas
  • SIMPLE SERENITY Blue Barn epitomizes Irene's goal of bringing joy out of the simple surroundings found throughout SLO county.

"The paintings are meant to bring peace and calmness into the house or place where they hang," Irene said. "I want it to be that when people look at my art they feel joy and it brings them comfort."

Whether that be by raising money for arts nonprofits or to support those in Ukraine, Irene wants her art to bring joy to those in its proximity.

"If they are having a bad day, I want it to brighten up their day," she said. "It's why I chose the name Joyful Art, to remind people of the joy in the world around them, and how through that they can spread that joy through their passions, much as I do in my art." Δ

Freelancer Adrian Vincent Rosas is getting lost in the joy of nature. Reach him at [email protected].

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