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article imageOp-Ed: Realtor leaves city to pursue artistic dream in small town Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Aug 13, 2015 in Entertainment
Sonoma - Art and commerce were in abundance at the Plaza on Tuesday evening and while the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel played to an enthusiastic crowd, artist Jan Small was delighted because she has now settled in Sonoma to pursue her life-long passion of art.
The Sonoma Jazz Society Concert at the Tuesday night market and all of Sonoma milling about, dancing, eating, strolling along in the evening glow, reassured Jan she had made the right choice.
"You know, she told this reporter, I thought that Sonoma might be a bit provincial for my taste; for I am a city person at heart. But now that I am here and I am surrounded by all of this, I am really thankful I made this choice."
Jan made the choice to retire from real estate at a considerable risk. More than just down-sizing, Jan had to make some difficult choices. Truly, a woman of the world and sophisticated with a discerning savvy, Jan does not take to the bland or banal. Leaving behind the lifestyle of a realtor is not as easy as it sounds. Especially so, when Jan over the past two decades has reached the peak of success. A wonderful living space on Nob Hill, season tickets to the ballet, the opera the symphony and an annual visit to New York City to recharge her artistic and cultural vitality.
That Tuesday evening of Aug. 11  the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel band was playing to an enthusiastic crow...
That Tuesday evening of Aug. 11, the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel band was playing to an enthusiastic crowd. Artist, Jan Small was impressed and is pleased she made the decision to leave San Francisco to pursue her artistic endeavors in the town of Sonoma.
Yet, even with that, she still had this yearning for her first love. "Art has always been my passion" she said, raising her voice so to be heard above the ecstatic percussion of the jazz sounds upon stage at the center of the plaza. To say that Jan is an artist is an understatement. Her 'Joie de vivre' is evident in everything she does.
Impressed with the availability of fine dinning in Sonoma  artist Jan Small is pleased with long-sta...
Impressed with the availability of fine dinning in Sonoma, artist Jan Small is pleased with long-standing establishments like The Swiss Hotel on the Plaza. "It has an old world charm and I enjoy the wine served there too."
Her love of art is also reflected in her love of all the good things in life. Good food, good wine, fashion, an appreciation of everything, this is how she lives. "My art expresses this," she said. Jan's style of painting is impressionism/ expressionism. Friend and client, Joann Hays praised her work saying, "Jan’s ability to express herself artistically is evident in her paintings. Her love of creating comes through in her body of work."
As the Afro-Cuban Cartel band completed its performance and the crowd began to disperse, Jan thought a glass of wine at the Swiss Hotel would be a perfect compliment to an evening filed with music, dancing and merriment. "I love the old world charm of Sonoma. The drive near the vineyards reminds me of France and Italy."
 The human form and interesting faces are fascinating to me   said artist Jan Small. This summer she...
"The human form and interesting faces are fascinating to me," said artist Jan Small. This summer she moved from San Francisco to Sonoma to pursue her passion of painting and drawing.
Courtesy of Jan Small
"I am so impressed with the restaurants and the quality of the food and dinning in Sonoma and the air here has such a gentle quality to it," she said. The dinning experience of the Swiss Hotel did not disappoint and the garden patio gave her the opportunity to explain more about her life.
"I always was inclined towards the arts," she said. She credits her parents for that and is thankful they encouraged her to pursue an art education. At 13 she attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. Born and raised in the East Bay, her spirit had wings to fly to other places, especially where she could study and learn more about art. And, while she respected her parents and was grateful to them, their life in San Lorenzo was too suburban for her taste.
"My studies included summer and evening classes with artists such as Stella Stevens from the Chicago Art Institute and the fine artist Jacques Faubert," she said.
"Midway through high school I transferred to San Francisco Academy of Art now called Academy of Art University, where I studied under Howard Brodie, a fine artist/illustrator; as well as Pat Haberman among others," she said.
"At 17, I graduated high school and spent a summer in France where I studied in a small private art school, called the College for Students and Artists Aboard, while there I studied painting."
"I also spent several months in Paris as an apprentice at the J Walter Thompson Advertising Agency, where I explored commercial art."
 Jan’s ability to express herself artistically is evident in her paintings  said friend Joann Hays...
"Jan’s ability to express herself artistically is evident in her paintings, said friend Joann Hays. Her love of creating comes through in her body of work."
Courtesy of Jan Small
Her time on the East Coast, then in Paris and Europe was among the most treasured in memory. "Upon my return to San Francisco, I resumed my studies at the SF Academy of Art." Jan then set out at getting her work exhibited in the galleries as well as other venues like hotel lobbies, restaurants and cafes. Among them was ARTwork SF on Geary - San Francisco's art and theater district. "I showed in 14 shows, she noted, some group showings and a few solo exhibits."
"I had to let go of real estate," she said. "If I want to fulfill this dream of mine then I had to make that tough decision," she said. Once she made the decision, even with some trepidation, she found the resolve. "I am at peace with it and I have no regrets. I love where I am now. I still go to the City once or twice a month. But, oh I am so eager to get back home to Sonoma. This is my home now," she said, with delight.
Jan just recently made a sale of one of her paintings. She is confident that more will come. "You know, she said, it is a joy when someone buys a piece of your art. And, what an honor that is for the artist. Because, when a person buys an art work, they are going to take it home and live with it and treasure it. For me that is the ultimate compliment."
Artist Jan Small can be contacted by email at:
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Jan Small, Realtor, Sonoma, California, California College of Arts and Crafts
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