On Sunday, the Sea Cliff Village Library held an opening reception for “Spring Again: A Retrospective,” an exhibit sponsored by the Arts Council that features the work of Sea Cliff artist Azita Ganji, who died last April after a long battle with cancer. She was 59.
Her husband, Jack Madura, had the idea to curate an exhibit to honor his wife’s work. “Since it was coming up on spring, we wanted to have an opportunity to get all of her color, life and vibrancy back on display in time for the season,” he said. “This was really her favorite time of year.”
Kathleen DiResta, co-chairwoman of the Arts Council, was happy to put Ganji’s paintings up for public view. “Not only is it great to honor her spirit, but her artwork is very vibrant and beautiful,” DiResta said. “I had an exhibit of her work at my store when I first opened. She was very beloved, and a lot of artists in the community knew her and loved her as well.”
Ganji called the village home for almost 40 years, and her use of vibrant colors and love of nature are dominant subjects of the exhibit, signaling a nod to the start of spring.
“Azita loved nature,” Madura said. “It was the inspiration for what she did in life as well as her art.” He pointed out four Brightly colored paintings hanging in a corner of the exhibit, which is Ganji’s ocean series. His wife spent days on the beach, he said, studying the motion of the waves and the reflections and interactions among the sky, sun and water. Even in her paintings depicting the colder scenes of winter, she found color in the dullest of landscapes.
Ganji first came to Sea Cliff from her homeland of Iran when she was 19. She studied architecture at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, where she met her friend Nadia Noorani.
“Her art is fantastic, colorful and expressive, and shows a lot of who Azita was,” Noorani said. “She was a very happy person, and always believed in living well and being well.”
Azita’s sister, Roxanna Ganji, recalled coming to visit her during her early years in Sea Cliff. “She would take me to every corner of the village, and show me the buildings and the places that she appreciated,” she said. “She felt that she belonged here. Every place that she went was an inspiration for her artwork.”
Roxanna said her sister’s talent was evident from an early age, when she would return home after a day of sightseeing with a handful of sketches. She was only 5. “My mom understood that she had a closeness [to] nature and a feeling for art early on,” Roxanna said. “Her paintings were her life. All she wanted to do was paint.”
Madura and Roxanna recommended that residents visit the exhibit to get a true sense of the artist. “Azita was all about living life to the fullest,” her sister said, “and appreciating the simple things in life, like enjoying an afternoon in the yard with her flowers.”
The exhibit will be on display through April.