by J.B. Hyppolite
Halina Pikulak, 57, is a friendly face customers may see when they shop for flowers at Rothe Florists, the 105-year-old, fourth-generation company at 7148 Germantown Ave. in Mt. Airy. What customers may not know, however, is that in addition to her talent as a floral designer who also waits on customers, Halina is an exceptional artist with over 30 years of experience painting stunning murals of animals, furniture and antique restoration, marbleized and faux finishes, hand-painted glass, calligraphy, event decorating (including weddings), themed holiday planning and prop design. (Halina worked at Rothe in the 1990s and again since April of this year.)
Halina, also an art teacher whose work has appeared in many exhibits at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Flower Show, etc., even has a line of Christmas cards and is a professional Christmas tree decorator. She has had major corporate accounts such as First Pennsylvania Bank and Strawbridge and Clothier.
Halina brings her expertise to fit one’s lifestyle at home or to one’s business. Just imagine, for example, a nursery filled with dreams come true or a den that signifies your adventurous side or a dining room that takes you back to the Tuscan countryside. “Art changes the way we view the world and the way the world views us,” said Halina. “My philosophy is that the work is only completed when the customer is satisfied.”
Halina also works regularly on a series of landscapes and wildlife paintings which are like catnip to animal lovers with their authenticity and soulfulness. Her latest landscape painting is titled “Marilla Reservoir,” an acrylic on canvas that brims with hues of the wild that surrounds it. One of Halina’s murals features a tiger standing mightily among rocks, flowers and plants against a bright blue ocean backdrop. “Winston Man,” while not wildlife-centric, is a poignant pen and ink piece of a man with a jean jacket, mustache and pack of cigarettes.
Halina’s Christmas greeting cards focus on wildlife and are hand-painted. They are just $5 apiece. And she has won awards for her floral work and Christmas tree decorations. “I have a passion for art. It’s my life,” said Halina, who is divorced and has no children. When she is not creating art, Halina enjoys working out (“I’m a fitness fanatic”), the beach, the theater and fine food and wine.
Halina’s artistic talents were inherited from her mother. Her brother, Edward, was also a successful artist. “He was basically my idol,” said Halina about her brother, now deceased, whose area of expertise was in creating scenic props for theatrical productions.
Halina built a substantial clientele in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and was a full-time artist when the economy was more stable. “I was fortunate enough to get a lot of word of mouth. When business was really good, I never had to advertise.” People she met, such as her chiropractor and acupuncturist, world hire Halina to create paintings or even party decorating.
Halina moved to Florida in 2004 and taught art classes, mostly focused on watercolors at an assisted living facility. She found her job rewarding and became close with her elderly students. One of the facilities was Grand Court in Tampa. Halina set up her students’ easels with her own materials and drew their pictures. “I was truly touched by this because I realized that a part of me was in every one of their paintings.”
Halina, who returned to Philadelphia in 2012, grew up in the Port Richmond neighborhood of the lower Northeast. She has an associate’s degree in Art/Illustration from the Art Institute of Philadelphia and attended John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School. Her ultimate artistic aspirations are to be featured at the Philadelphia Art Museum, have a one-woman gallery show and provide artwork for a U.S. postage stamp.
“But just doing art at all really makes me happy,” she insisted.
Halina can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-512-6377.