If you look up, way up to the top of Kitchener City Hall, every night this month you will see cool images projected on The Cube. Those are landscapes and cityscapes by local painter, Jonathan Munz, also known as Paint by Munzy.
If you can’t stay up until 10pm to see the Cube exhibit, take a stroll through Uptown Waterloo where you’ll find the Paint by Munzy micro gallery, at the corner of King and Dupont streets.
While the gallery is small, the space feels welcoming. The big windows cast a pleasant glow on Jonathan’s large-scale oil paintings and the gallery manager, who happens to be Jonathan’s sister Laura, animates the gallery space with her cheerful demeanour.
Jonathan’s paintings are beautiful; a style akin to Group of Seven meets Tiffany glass. Inspired by a lifetime of camping and hiking, he references photos from those trips as inspiration. “I think nature creates beautiful shapes and colours so I try to capture elements of them in my paintings,” he says.
Trained as a graphic designer, Jonathan’s style started with pop art, but he moved onto this true love: landscapes. More recently cityscapes have been a focus, especially his New York City architectural icons series. He also has a side project capitalizing on his long-time passion for Lego. He collects pieces to design pop-culture Lego sculptures for friends and special clients.
Always a big champion of Jonathan’s talents, a couple of years ago Laura encouraged him to think about showcasing his work in a public way. They started with a show at Seven Shores where they sold 15 paintings the opening night. Buoyed by the success, Laura quickly looked for a more permanent space to showcase his work. The King Street store font opened up and they jumped on it.
“Opening a gallery that only showcased Jonathan’s work has been both terrifying and exciting,” says Laura. “However, we’ve been delighted by the level of support from not only our family and friends but the community, who have become regular clients and champions of his work.”
She thought the gallery might be isolating by showing a single artist, but Laura has been delighted that other creatives have stopped by to talk about artist promotions and locals, who wander by liking what they see. “The community has made the gallery an uptown hub of sorts,” says Laura. “And that’s amazing.”
People of all kinds are buying Jonathan’s work: art collectors, business owners, people who simply like beautiful and colourful things, and even those who were given a Munzy art card and come in say, “I want this in a bigger version!” To her and Jonathan’s delight, many people buy multiple pieces for their home and workspaces. (I am about to buy my first piece from Paint by Munzy.)
To keep the gallery’s content fresh and support other like-minded talents from the area, they will on occasion plan artist take-over events. “I want to help artists who are too busy creating their art to promote themselves,” she says. “Selling their work and helping people feel inspired is important to what we do here.”
P.S. Jonathan’s favoruite topic of conversation: movies – new ones, old ones, good ones, bad ones, and good-bad ones [think Sharknado]. Laura`s favourite topic of conversation: food, drink and travel.