Some might say Joe Lastomirsky has done it all. He has served in the military, worked for Boeing, assisted with set design for the film industry and successfully opened his own countertop business, all while pursuing his own creative passions— painting and furniture design. But according to Lastomirsky, the best is yet to come.
“My greatest accomplishment has been being able to work as an artist for the past 26 years,” said Joe Lastomirsky. “Because of my art, I’ve traveled throughout the United States, including Hawaii. My furniture is in households across the country, and I've been able to build a studio on my property here in Portland. I acknowledge that I've enjoyed some successes as an artist, but I'm still striving for the rest.”
After serving in the military during the 60s, Lastomirsky registered for an art class at a community college in Detroit. He had enjoyed drawing as a child and wanted to pursue art as a career opportunity. His instructor helped him put together a portfolio to present to the College (then the Society of Arts and Crafts), where he was quickly accepted.
“CCS taught me the necessary discipline to complete my projects, provided me with a great foundation in drawing and painting, connected me with successful working artists, and, most of all, expanded my vision of what qualifies as art,” explained Lastomirsky. “One of my fine arts instructors, Joe Bernard, would explain an assignment. Then we would spend the rest of the class looking at work that he felt met the criteria, everything from Rauschenberg to Egon Schiele to Schwitters. As a young man from the lower east side of Detroit, I never knew the art he showed us existed.
“Professor Russell Keeter taught me the basics of drawing, anatomy and painting. We maintained a close friendship right up to his passing. I’ve also kept in touch with John Ganis (photography instructor) and regularly run into two other CCS alumni, Mike O'Keefe, a glass artist, and Mark Hooper, a successful commercial and now fine art photographer.”
Since graduation, Lastomirsky has worked on the sets of “Curly Sue,” “Groundhog Day,” “The Babe,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Maverick,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” “Practical Magic,” “The Postman,” “The Miracle On 34th Street” remake, “Hoods,” and “The Chamber.” Later, he started making concrete tiles, which led to making furniture under the name Mud Pie Studios. Eventually, he expanded his services to include concrete countertops, which he approaches as sculpture.
Although his countertop business keeps him busy, Lastomirsky continues to submit work to gallery shows. In 2007, he created a bench for an art competition in St. Helen’s, Oregon. A year later he started working on a personal sculpture series and received commissions for two of the pieces from Oregon’s Pacific University.
“I’m still striving for gallery representation and recognition from the national art media,” said Lastomirsky. “For some of us it just takes a little longer, which will make it all that much sweeter when it does.”