From The Observer News
By Julie Ball
Former President Corazon Aquino was the first female president of the Phillippines serving from 1986 to 1992 after her husband Benigno Aquino was killed.
As a widow she became the unifying force of opposition against the autocratic ruler of her time. She was put into power peacefully by the 1986 People Power Revolution.
“The former President Aquino is an inspiration to me and my work. She is a symbol of peace, democracy and women’s rights,” Johanna explained. “After her presidency she insisted on going back to living among the people and being simple. It was an honor to visit the Philippines and see her history.”
Johanna was born in Leiden, Netherlands where she also was educated in art. Her family was associated with the arts so she became drawn to them at an early age.
“Around 4 or 5 years old I was given a little painting kit. I was so good at it and I loved it immediately,” said Johanna. “The first picture I painted was a duck that was in our backyard and I was always painting flowers for my mother.”
From then on she was continuously painting whether for school, her business or just for pleasure.
This is not her first time presenting a painting to the rich or famous. She and her late husband were associated with construction in Europe and later on in America. She would often sell her paintings to the clients they met.
Her reputation as an artist grew with the business and many of the works ended up hanging permanently in the homes of their clients, including former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill.
She sought early retirement from the construction business and in 1971 moved to Centerville, MA where she became a member of the Cape Cod Art Association.
During her time in Massachusetts, Johanna was able to study with several nationally recognized artists of the Cape Cod Colony including Robert and Jean Hitch.
“While living in Massachusetts I was able to grow my creative talents. I constantly entered exhibitions and I surprised myself by winning in categories I had never pursued before -- portraits and still life,” said Johanna.
Since moving to Apollo Beach, following a brief stint living in Port St. Lucie before the 2005 hurricanes hit, she has been active with the Apollo Beach Chamber of Commerce where she helps run the children’s section of the Manatee Arts Festival.
Her student paintings are often on display at Colonial Bank in Apollo Beach and the South Shore Library.
“I still teach lessons and paint for others but my real recent passion has been helping people with art. Art can be similar to therapy. If you can connect someone with a deeper sense of themselves, then you have succeeded,” said Johanna.
She especially encourages those who say they cannot paint. “We need to bury the word cannot,” said Johanna. “Usually those who believe they cannot paint end up being incredible.”
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