MJ Atelier was founded by Maria Apelo Cruz, and husband Mike Jovanovic. Prior to founding their firm, Maria graduated with a masters degree from the New York Academy of Art. She is trained in Old Master and figurative painting; in addition, she also has experience in sculpting.
Earlier in her career, Maria painted for art industries (film and television), as well as for high-end interior design firms in Los Angeles for 35 years. Maria has an uncanny ability to create and paint in a plethora of styles; as such, she was always successful at collaborating with designers on unique commissions… both in the public and private arena.
Today, MJ Atelier is considered to be among the premier firms that specialize in customized wall coverings. Perhaps that is because (courtesy of Artelier) “All projects are site specific. ‘We don’t fill orders, says Maria, ‘we study projects, listen to the designer’s intentions and then we create…. every project is approached as an opportunity to explore and create something site-specific and unique.'”
Maria typically creates traditional motifs such as florals, tropical leaves, and perched peacocks. She uses a plaster relief technique that she developed (and patented) with her husband and work partner, Mike. The hand-sculpted plaster is flexible and malleable which allows the artisans to create the substantial wall-coverings within their studio and ship them for installation. As mentioned, each piece is crafted specifically for the space… the wall-covering fits corner-to-corner.
In 2019, MJ Atelier created a stunning fine art wall-covering for a prestigious New York show-house. The piece was crafted using moulded gesso and 23K gold on one seamless stretch of canvas. The intricate wall-covering spans the entirety of the grand staircase’s two floors.
Even though Maria often designs traditional motifs, the atelier is well versed in other painted finishes. The California-based studio has also perfected finishes that employ a combination of metal and chemical effects on glass.
The studio’s reverse-painted artwork is available on many different types of glass finishes. The gilded/painted glass is available for a number of different uses which include folding screens, wall murals, table tops, and kitchen backsplashes.
A video showing the atelier’s involved process…
In addition to all the material and technical contributions from MJ Atelier, Maria and Mike have vowed to help train a new generation of artisans in their unique and authentic process. The Los-Angeles studio is always filled with a number of trainees that work alongside the pair… garnering inspiration from their thirty years of experience in the decorative arts.
Maris says (courtesy of MJ Atelier), “Our true passion is to keep traditional decorative art techniques alive and to contribute new ones – the collaborative process with designers is key – we flourish because designers are continually finding new ways to incorporate our skills and techniques in their projects.” This is definitely one to keep watching!