JoAnne McGrath

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? I am an actor. I am an artist. I am a writer. I am a furniture flipper. When I was growing up I was often told to focus on one thing and get really good at it rather than trying to do so many things. The old adage was “A jack of all trades, a master of none”. I always hated that phrase. I didn’t want to focus on just one thing. And I often thought of Leonardo da Vinci who was very good at many things. So I figured I would rather follow that example. So with that as my guiding force, I’ve written screenplays, stage plays, and children’s books. I’ve illustrated, animated and painted. I’ve acted on stage, in films, music videos and commercials. And most recently, I’ve taken old furniture that was on its way to the landfill and refurbished, repainted and given new life to each piece.

How did you first become interested/involved in art / the arts? I always drew. That was my first art. If I had a pencil, a crayon, a paintbrush, a pen or anything with which to make a mark, I was drawing.

Any interesting early experiences? One time, when I was about three, I painted an entire canvas (made entirely of old newspapers…thanks mom for the canvas) blue; just blue. Top to bottom, side to side. I don’t know if I was making some deep artistic statement. But I was determined. And it turns out, that is when I know I am doing something right. That’s what drives me to do all of the art I do. There is an underlying determination that takes hold and feels great.

With regards to art / acting, etc. (your various specialities), what might be an interesting tidbit or two that regular citizens might not realize about your process? One thing I think most people might not realize about my process is that I don’t necessarily ever know what the outcome will be of any of my pieces, be they paintings, furniture or writing. I often have one idea and then when the brush hits the canvas and then once I start painting I almost feel like I’m no longer making decisions. I’m just kind of going with it.

How do the Arts enrich a community, and what are some of your favorite ways people can engage with art in Burbank? Arts are SO important to a community. For me, it has always given me a sense of belonging. I am an artist. So even if I produce my art all by myself, as soon as I release it to the world, I am included in a community of artists. Art can beautify or make a statement. It can be casual or political. It can make you feel. I love just strolling in and out of the vintage shops on Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank. There are so many little hidden treasures of vintage and new art. I currently have some art work displayed at The Catnip Coalition, a vintage mall where a portion of the sales goes to help rescue kittens. I love when I have the opportunity to support artists and a good cause at the same time.

If you could share with our community one piece of advice about making art / being creative, what would it be? Go for it! You are more creative than you know. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. Realize that there are first drafts for a reason. If you want to paint, paint. If you want to write, write. If you want to act, act. Because the more art you make…the more art there is. And what’s not to like about that?

Learn more about JoAnne on Instagram at joflipsit, joannemcgrathart, joannemcgrath99!