Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prolific Local Artist Has Devoted a Lifetime to Her Craft

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prolific Local Artist Has Devoted a Lifetime to Her Craft

Article excerpt

Byline: Mary Maraghy, County Line staff writer

Ms. P is helping Ricky Smith of Middleburg put together a portfolio of his best art work so he can apply to some art colleges he hopes to attend.

"She's great. She's really taught me a lot," 17-year-old Smith said. "She tells me what's good and what I need to work on."

For nearly 20 years, veteran artist and art teacher Jeanne Pellegrino -- known to students at Ms. P -- has helped hundreds of young people land college scholarships, choice internships and art careers.

Though she admits she can get lofty and overly technical in her discussions of art, she said she has had little trouble communicating with the 1,500 students she's taught in her home studios in Lakeside Estates.

Art has been Pellegrino's passion since age 6 and her life's work.

Despite being highly allergic to chemicals, she's spent most of her time amidst paint fumes.

"I have to paint," she said matter-of-factly. "It's not an option. I'll paint until I'm dead."

That's an example of Pellegrino's undying devotion to her craft. She's determined to make fine art a part of Clay County, which artsy folks say is by no means an arts metropolis.

She's one of the few artists who have been brave enough to push modern abstract art in a highly conservative area, said Sally Ann Freeman, an art appraiser and former owner of Gallery Contemporanea, which closed in 1995 but once sold Pellegrino's work.

Greg Reninger, manager of Affordable Framing on Blanding Boulevard, said he is amazed by Pellegrino's portraits that sell for top dollar in his shop.

"They are second to none, top notch," Reninger said.

Born and raised in Ohio, Pellegrino came to the Orange Park area in 1974 and taught art at Jacksonville University.

For nearly two decades she's been exhibiting her work and teaching her craft to young people, including some with disabilities.

Her enthusiasm bubbles from her.

"After all these years, I'm still excited about what I do," she said as if she were a giddy teenager. "It just doesn't stop."

In addition to art, Pellegrino is also devoted to God. She said she believes God guided her paintbrush in the creation of several paintings of angels. …

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