Weathered Or Art?
Photos by: Cristina Danielle O'Connor
To you, it might just be a wall. To Jeremiah Brzoska, it’s a canvas. Through his company Artistic Finishes of North Florida, he’s making the world a more beautiful place, one project at a time.
It’s in the rustic patina of oxidization spreading spiderwebs of cracks across a panel of painted oak. It’s in the subtle weathering of brick, scoured down by time, grain by grain. Distressed, antiqued, aged, whatever you want to call it, it’s one trend in home and commercial design that has proven its staying power. You’ll see it everywhere from luxury homes to high-end restaurants, that subtle look that conveys a lifetime of memories within these walls.
And when you see it done right, odds are good Jeremiah Brzoska’s Artistic Finishes of North Florida was behind it.
“Time is the enemy of all artistry,” says Brzoska. “We like to do things the hard way.”
The hard way involves a little extra time and a lot of extra elbow grease, but the results speak for themselves. Bricks lining a fireplace or serving as outdoor accents are limewashed until there’s no way to know they hadn’t been there for centuries. The gentle curves of oaken grain just peak through distressed paint on accent walls or exposed ceiling beams to evoke homey comfort and permanence. It’s the hard way, yes. And it’s built on stubborn adhesion to perfection and informed by a unique sense of artistry.
That approach has not only made Artistic Finishes of North Florida a household name among builders, it’s also gaining renown in the art world. When Jacksonville’s famed Cummer Museum wanted to add flair to its courtyard walls, they called Brzoska.
“They’re an art museum, so they didn’t want to just use stucco. They wanted something that would accentuate the beauty of the courtyard and do something artful,” he says. What he created on the walls of the Cummer Museum sees five shades mottled together in perfect harmony to create an impressive sense of aging and history. It’s a work of art just as inspired as anything found within. “They trusted my vision and said, ‘This is your chance to make your mark on an art museum.’”
Approaching each project with the eye of an artist comes naturally to Brzoska as the son of artists who made their marks in the art and fashion worlds.
“They weren’t just hobby artists. My dad did sculpting and my mom did fashion. She’s doing canvas work up and down the east coast,” says Brzoska.
Despite the pedigree, art was not Brzoska’s first calling. A professional skateboarder at 13, he eventually made his way to the culinary world as a chef before he found the art world calling him. At first that calling led him to peddling paintings on the sidewalks of Jacksonville or at smaller art shows. It wasn’t until he made contact with local architects in need of his talents that he began moving into finishing.
“Five years ago, I immersed myself in it and started teaching myself through watching videos and working with a company that did decorative finishes,” he says. I decided that I was going to put a few different feelers out there in the art world and see what would come to me.
“That’s the best kind of living you can make as an artist. We can get $100,000 jobs, and we have. I couldn’t see myself selling a 100k painting,” he says. “Plus, I wanted to be able to build a team and empower them. My team gets paid well and it’s a career for them.”
Brzoska prides himself on being that rarest of employer who puts people first, scouting out talent from the art community and teaching them the trade of finishing, or even awakening the artistic talents within those outside the art world.