The girl in the orange jumpsuit: inside artist Ann Golumbuk’s live-in gallery
An accident inspired this longtime fitness instructor to take her talents to the canvas.
“’You’re that girl that paints in the orange suit!’”
Indeed, artist Ann Golumbuk swoops in on her canvases, a brush in each hand, dressed in paint-splattered, electric-orange correctional facility-style coveralls. “Yes, I am,” she says. “People know me because of my orange suit.”
One of her jumpsuits even became an award-winning, mixed-media artwork, taking best in show at a national, juried exhibition at North Park’s Ashton Gallery. The piece, entitled “Hanging by a Thread,” is a powerful, evocative work that stands stiffened and disembodied, covered with the mugshots of jailed women; appropriately enough it was for a show entitled “Orange is the New Black.”
The piece is now taking up residence, complete with its accompanying exhibit label, in another gallery of sorts. But this is no stark, white-walled museum space—it’s the exuberant, colorful home she shares with her husband Jeff in Del Cerro.
Working with designer and lifestyle maven Rachel Moriarty, who is also known to freely spin the color wheel, Ann—who has a degree in interior design—created an enviable artist’s live/work/gallery space out of the family home where she raised her three now-adult children.
“Everything I paint is for the house; it’s for me. Everything,” she says. “I do commission work but when I’m starting a new painting I think about where it’s going to go in my house. I had Rachel come in and rework the house with me because I want my house to be my gallery—I have my studio here, so this is my gallery, too. When I have people come in I want my paintings to be out in the room; I want you to be absorbed so you’re part of the painting, you’re in the experience of the painting.”
And what an experience it is.
Her work is bright and visceral, layered with meaning, family stories and scribbled words, not to mention mixed media like three-ply paper towels and drywall repair tape. “I throw it all in; dog hair and everything. Right, Duke?” she asks of her retriever, and it’s not clear if she’s joking.
The path to creating the perfect environment for both her work and home life was a long one, though; the path to becoming an artist even more challenging. She grew up in Oklahoma, one of 11 children with a mother who had an artistic streak and kept everyone occupied with a roomful of art supplies. More
interested in fitness and sports, Ann found a calling as a health and fitness trainer—she still works with clients in her sheltered, alfresco home gym, as well as at a fitness center in Point Loma. She also helped create a corporate branding business with her husband, then became a stay-at-home mom (albeit one coaxing clients through one last rep in her gym). She became a volunteer art teacher at her children’s elementary school and painted backdrops for school talent shows, but her line was still: “I don’t really paint. I’m into fitness, I’m more into interior design.”
That all changed in 2009 when she was hit by a drunk driver. “It took me all the way down,” Ann says, leaving her prone and in pain (she continues with physical therapy to this day). “I lay here on the floor for probably a year and a half to try and straighten my spine out.”
Even though the family had been in the home for five years at that point, there was no art on the walls, and as she lay in recovery, her imagination began to kick in “I would lay here every day thinking, if I got a canvas I bet I’d be strong enough to pour paint and throw it on there. Then I kept thinking if I filled up water balloons I could stick them on there and just pop them. I was thinking of all the ways I could do it. And so once I got better, about a year and a half, two years after my accident, I bought some canvas.”
Now she more than just dabbles in art, teaching classes at Art on 30th in North Park, showing in local galleries, representing the work of other artists, licensing giclée prints of her work through Leftbank Art, and selling art right off the walls of her home gallery (one recent buyer scooped up 18 pieces in one fell swoop). “Without my accident, I wouldn’t have moved into the art world,” Ann says.
Now, dramatic hues—teal, eggplant, red, pink—adorn the walls, accenting the colors in her artwork, which vie for attention with the sweeping views from the hilltop home.
Even a pool table gets into the act with its vivid orange felt and metallic body (created by an autobody shop), along with her personalized dining room table, a vortex of color and emotion surrounded by canary yellow chairs that is an ode to her family and parents.
“I love color; I’m very passionate about it,” she says. “I like as much energy as I can get in here.”