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Marijana Grisnik Croatian painter from Strawberry Hill in Kansas City USA
By Nenad N. Bach and Darko Žubrinić | Published  07/15/2020 | Education , Culture And Arts | Unrated
Marijana has been recognized as a famous Kansan and a Notable Kansas Woman

Marijana Grišnik, Croatian painter born in Strawberry Hill, Kansas City, USA. Photo from Matica 2012, 6: 20-22.
Marijana Grišnik: Strawberry Hill, Kansas City, in winter

Marijana Grisnik, Croatian painter
Strawberry Hill, Kansas City

The area known as Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kansas, lies on the bluffs overlooking the place where the Kansas and Missouri rivers merge. Legend says its name comes from the wild strawberries that once grew there. The area is most closely identified with the Slavics, especially the Croatians, who began settling the area in the late 19th century. Many southern Slavs, in particular those from Croatia, came to Kansas City to seek a more prosperous life. As was the case in many ethnic communities, life in Strawberry Hill at first resembled village life in the old country. Although many changes took place in Strawberry Hill over the years, it remains a strong ethnic community and a center for Croatian-Americans throughout the Kansas City area.

Marijana Grišnik: Strawberry Hill (Kansas City) in a basket

Marijana Grisnik is a woman with strong ties both to Strawberry Hill and the ethnic heritage of its people. All four of her grandparents immigrated to Kansas City from Croatia. Born on Strawberry Hill in 1936 in the same house as her mother, Marijana was raised within the traditions of the Strawberry Hill community. According to Marijana, "I was very fortunate in that my mother shared me with the people on the Hill. They all seemed to have a hand in raising me." As a child Marijana loved to sketch the sights of Strawberry Hill. It was, however, after the birth of her third child that she began painting her memories of growing up on Strawberry Hill. Through her canvases this self-taught artist has become the storyteller of this ethnic community.

Her paintings depict such activities as making Kobasica (sausage), gathering grain on the railroad tracks, a Croatian wedding, and Good Friday at St. John's Church. She paints from memory using the songs, the food, the arts, and the stories, which circulate among the members of the Croatian community for inspiration. She views her paintings as "giving back to the Hill what the Hill gave to me."


Marijana Grišnik: Croatian tamburitzans in Strawberry Hill, Kansas City

Marijana Grišnik: Strawberry Hill, Kansas City

Marijana Grišnik: Croatian village

Marijana Grišnik: Village of Lukovdol, Gorski kotar, Croatia

Marijana Grišnik: Midnight Mass in the churhc of St John the Baptist, Strawberry Hill, Kansas City

Croatian language only

"Marijana Grisnick possesses an extraordinary talent that has been recognized by scholars and laypersons alike. The images she creates on canvas are not soon forgotten by observers who are drawn into her world - the world of Marijana's youth - Strawberry Hill."

Marijana, a nonacademic painter has been telling the story of Strawberry Hill through her artwork for thirty years. She has completed 250 paintings and continues to paint. Marijana's paintings preserve a lasting record of the traditional Croatian/American culture of Strawberry Hill for future generations.

Her exhibitions include 25, one-woman exhibitions in the United States and two in Croatia. The Balch Institute of America chose two of her paintings to represent the Croatian in America for a three-year exhibition that toured the United States. She was chosen to be the artist to paint in the first Folk Life Festival in the state of Kansas.

Ten of Marijana's paintings are in the collections in Croatia, which include:

  • The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia in Zagreb
  • City of Karlovac
  • Vladimir Nazor Children's Home, Karlovac, where Marijana is a member of Zilik (a group of artists who believe that art is great when it is created with love and given to others).
  • The Museum of Naive Art, Zagreb, Croatia

Forty of Marijana's paintings are in the permanent collection of the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka. Marijana has been recognized as a famous Kansan and a Notable Kansas Woman.

"Just as the brush is a tool by which a painter paints the world around her, the painter herself is a tool by which the people and place she is part of convey their world and preserve it for future generations."

Early in 1900 many Croatians immigrated to the United States from Croatia to Kansas City, Kansas. They settled in a small community called Strawberry Hill.
A very small area, boundaries were Third Street on the east, Fifth Street on the west, Armstrong Avenue on the north, and Orville Avenue on the south.
Many Croatian-Americans lived outside these boundaries, they came up to the Hill to go to church, school, socials, and to visit.

Editor's note:

The paintings depicted here are from either Marijana Grisnik's personal collection or the collections of the Kansas Historical Society. Marijana requested that we place these on our website to help educate children about the culture of the immigrants to Strawberry Hill. The words in italics within the script are quotes from Marijana. By selecting on the image, larger versions will appear. Marijana encourages teachers to use the images in a media presentation for their class, especially if they are studying immigration settlements in Kansas.


Ispričala nam je jednu priču o muškarcu koji je došao na njezinu izložbu u St. Louisu prije nekoliko godina:

U izložbenu prostoriju ušao je muškarac koji je izgledao kao beskućnik. Zaštitar je želio da muškarac odmah napusti prostoriju jer je mislio da takav čovjek ne spada tu. Kad sam to vidjela, rekla sam zaštitaru da muškarac treba ostati. Što sam vidjela nakon toga, duboko me dodirnulo. Muškarac je dugo šetao izložbenim prostorom i pažljivo pregledao sve slike. Ispred nekoliko slika vidjela sam da je zaplakao. Ništa nije znao o susjed-stvu sa Strawberry Hilla, ali moje slike ipak su u njemu pobudile tolike emocije.

Ta priča je lijep dokaz da Marijanina umjetnost govori svim ljudima bez obzira na to imaju li veze sa Strawberry Hillom ili ne.

Novak, Charles, Alex Roschitz, and Marta Pirnat-Greenberg. 2012. Marijanin Strawberry Hill [PDF]. Reportaže studenata Sveučilišta u Kansasu o američko-hrvatskim umjetnicima iz Kansas Cityja (1). Matica 6: 20-22.

Marijana Grišnik: Nikola Rodina, Tamburica Craftsman
Nikola Rodina (+1975) is in the Hall of Fame of the Tamburitza Association of America

Marijana Grišnik: Strawberry Hill

Marijana Grišnik: Winter evening

David Frederick Gray: Strawberry Hill, Kansas City
decorated with Croatian Coat of Arms

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