Open Accessibility Menu

Little Falls Artist Sets CentraCare Art Gallery Record in May

Published in Cancer Care, For the Health of It, Volunteer Services Author: CentraCare

Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of all time said it best, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital’s featured gallery artist in June, Anita Tykwinski of Little Falls, found her gift early on in life and made it her mission to share her art with the world. In May, the 71-year-old set a record for selling the most artwork in a single month at CentraCare – Plaza — a whopping 20 pieces.

Anita Tykwinski
Anita Tykwinski

Sadly, the same month, the mother of two passed away from cancer on Mother’s Day.

“Her sky was always a different color than ours,” remembered her husband, Mike Tykwinski. “After 50 years together and raising two boys, her inspiration must have come from her heart.”

Anita’s family realized she had a talent at a very young age. She loved colors and could draw remarkably straight lines. Her family says she had a passion for creating anything she could and was always ‘messing with something different.’

“Over the years she had such an eye to see something. It could be a painting, flower bed, or landscape … She has done many types of art,” answered Mike.

Toward the end of her life, she started immersing herself in the use of acrylic paints and alcohol ink — works currently on display and for sale outside of the Chapel at St. Cloud Hospital.

Click to view Anita’s artwork

Volunteer Services Administrative Assistant Liz Becker first saw Anita’s artwork at the Lemonade Arts Festival at St. Cloud State University in 2022. “Her space was crowded with customers and people gravitated to her work.”

That’s when Liz knew she needed to reach out to Anita and get her art on display with CentraCare. Anita’s work went through a review process and was approved for showcase in May and June 2023.

“Anita was very talented and excelled in two to three different styles of work,” said Liz.

As fate would have it, Anita found out she had cancer and called Liz in February to give her the news. “She expressed confidence she was going to be OK and was eager to proceed with her shows in May and June, which is a testament to her strength and determination.”

Anita was receiving care at CentraCare – Coborn Cancer Center and CentraCare – Coborn Healing Center. She kept her two radiation masks and transformed them into beautiful pieces of art that are on display.

The artist also created a free jewelry tree for patients who need uplifting. Patients can pick earrings or a bracelet that are displayed on a small white tree replica. The message at the bottom of the tree reads, “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry…let’s show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile. Please take a little hug & smile from someone who knows what you’re going through.”

Toward the end of Anita’s life, the gallery became a bright spot in her day. “She found great joy in knowing that people admired her artwork,” said Liz. “When her exhibit in May was selling numerous pieces, I had the wonderful opportunity to call her family and let them know the number of sales.”

Each piece of artwork is a window into Anita’s soul. “She would do it over and over until she was happy, recalled Mike. “And, it might have taken her weeks to be happy … or sometimes we’d never end up seeing it.”

After Anita passed away, her family decided to continue with the gallery. “The strength of her family to carry out her wishes to continue sharing her artwork is remarkable and truly a testament to Anita’s passion which lives on,” Liz exclaimed.

Anita’s final works of art are on sale now at the St. Cloud Hospital Gift Galley — all except for one piece. After Anita’s passing, her family decided to keep her final painting of a bald eagle as a keepsake.

Proceeds from Anita’s artwork will go to her family and a portion will go to St. Cloud Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary which helps to assist in raising funding for various programs and scholarships.