ALBANY -- Jean Weiner, who has called Albany home for 12 years, said she is preparing to leave the Good Life City soon to join her husband and son in Iowa.
The local artist said the reason for the relocation is because her husband, Steve, accepted a job from Blue Bunny Ice Cream after he lost his job when Cooper Tire shut its Albany plant.
"This has been home for many years," Weiner said of Albany. "It just one door closing on us and another opening."
Weiner has created paintings for many Albany natives and has won numerous awards for her works in watercolor.
She said she will spend the next weeks completing commissioned works and other assorted projects and preparing for her move.
"We will be selling our house and we still have some packing to do," Weiner said. "I'm trying to get all my obligations finished."
She said she will always remember Albany as the place where her artistic side was born.
Weiner, who said she dabbled in art in high school, decided to study science and engineering in college.
"I was a little late in hearing my calling," she said. "I had to wait 40 years before I realized I wasn't doing what I was supposed to do."
Weiner's inspiration to become an artist arose at a very particular time.
"I had a cancer ordeal," she said. "It was a very rare kind of cancer, but I'm all stitched up and better now. It was on the other side of that when I realized my talent was a gift and wasn't using it."
In 2003, Weiner was diagnosed with a rare cancer in her nasal cavity. She underwent extensive surgery to remove a tumor followed by reconstructive surgery and a facial prosthetic to replace bone and tissue that had to be removed.
Weiner said waking up from the 12-hour procedure she immediately thought of painting.
"I woke up and was like 'I gotta use this gift, ' " she said. "It's a faith thing, God had given me a gift and I never really utilized it."
Weiner said she feels lucky to have been embraced as an artist and delights in her work.
"It has turned into a career for sure," she said.
Weiner said she feels Albany was the place where she began growing as an artist, and says her 'Radium Springs' painting is her favorite piece she has done in her six years as an artist.
"I have had the greatest success with 'Radium Springs,' " she said. "It was the first time I realized that I could be successful as an artist. The flurry of emotion and excitement around it makes it memorable."
Weiner said she also appreciates her 'Arctic Bear' painting because it allowed her to connect with Albany High School alumni who helped her understand what the Arctic Bear was like.
Weiner is currently working on her first mural at Veterinarian Hospital at Oakland Plantation on Hwy. 82 in Lee County.
"I've never done a mural before," she said. "It's very interesting."
Weiner also plans to incorporate hidden drawings of the office's logo of Murphyn, veterinarian Jimmy Lee's dog into the mural.
"So the kids will be involved," she explained. "Instead of Where's Waldo, it will be Where's Murphyn."
Weiner said she still plans to keep in touch with Albany and we still take commissions from Albany natives.
"This is where my art career began," she said. "If Albany still wants to claim me than I have no problem with that."