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No limits for Los Alamos artist

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By Gina Velasquez

Through the rest of February, the Betty Ehart Senior Center will be showcasing artwork from Nels Krakowski. An artist reception is 2-4 p.m. Feb. 21 at the senior center.
Krakowski, 40 was born in Santa Fe with a form a Down Syndrome. Krakowski has attended Special Education classes in Santa Fe (Agua Fria Elementary School), Albuquerque (Madison Middle School and Manzano High School) and Los Alamos High School, from where he graduated.
Krakowski has resided at the Peach Street Group Home for the past 20 years. “They (Peach Street staff) let him keep an easel in his room,” said father Robert Krakowski.
Although Nels doesn’t talk much, Robert Krakowski said it benefits his son to express himself in such a manner. He has taken many different art lessons over a 20 year span.
He has studied under the guidance of many artists in Los Alamos and Santa Fe, including painter Shelley Horton-Trippe. According to his resume, he has also studied with Roger Sweet, Ellen Koment, and Patrick Harris at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.
Most recently, Krakowski has studied with sculptor Monica Kaden in Santa Fe, where he explored the transition from the three-dimensional art of sculpture to the two-dimensions of his acrylic paintings. “We met every Tuesday afternoon. Nels learned color theory and composition, form and contrast. We ‘Mixed Medias’ and worked ‘Plein Air’ and brought everything on canvas,” Kaden said. “Nels is very special to me. The most wonderful human being. Nels worked so hard and very focused on the assignments. His face lit every Tuesday a bit more.”
Kaden added that Krakowski is “a true, very talented artist who has the ability to transform nature into the abstract world of forms.”
Krakowski has a body of work that projects abstract expression to the world in which he moves and loves — arches, trees, bridges, rainbows, flags, mountains, fields of grass, wreaths and many of natures simpler and often seasonal expressions that are too often missed.
Over the last few years, Krakowski’s pallet has assumed a brighter, more contrasted hue, as well as assuming a freer style. The simplicity and purity of his subject matter, however, remains positive and invariant. His translations to the canvas are simultaneously direct and abstract.
The Betty Ehart Senior Center is where Krakowski can be found most mornings as a volunteer. “We love having him here,” said Art Coordinator Mary Carol Williams. “He comes on his own and really likes to be here.”
Williams said Krakowski’s father is most supportive in his son’s endeavors. Robert Krakowski sets up the exhibits and mounts the art for display.