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May 22, 2024

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100 Years of An Artist’s Life

BROOKLANDVILLE, Md. – A Celebration of Life and Art. On a picture perfect fall day here on November 1, 2015 over 60 family members and friends gathered at the Maryvale Preparatory School, just north of Baltimore, to celebrate the 100th birthday of Stanislawa “Stella” Dernoga Hazard – the family matriarch who is a woman, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother spanning generations.

In photo: Stella reminiscing over her painting “Christ’s Presence in Fell’s Point” (1977).

Stella Hazard was born in Baltimore, Md. on November 2, 1915 to parents Martha and John Dernoga, with the family’s lineage being of pure Polish stock dating back to the old country. She displayed her artistic talents early on as a child, having inherited them from the skilled artists in her immediate family. Stella’s husband, Charles Oliver “Hap” Hazard, was also accomplished in the arts when they married in 1942 – a classic example of form follows function as it were.

After graduating high school at the age 18, Stella began her chosen formal career at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts as an assistant instructor in classic watercolor and basic drawing, later becoming an instructor specializing in watercolor and oils/charcoal portraiture. After Maryland Institute, she worked as a botanical artist/research assistant at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College’s Biology Department. The University of California at Berkley also employed her excellent and detailed graphic skills.

Then in 1939 Stella began working at the Baltimore Evening Sun newspaper. When America entered WWII in 1941, and with all the men being called to arms, she became a pioneer in the then male-dominated newspaper business by being the very first woman editorial staff artist at the Evening Sun. She worked alongside notables such as journalist/essayist H.L. Mencken and photographer A. Aubrey Bodine – just to name two luminaries of that journalism era.


In photo on right: Generations of a Polish Family. Pictured seated is Stanislawa Dernoga Hazard on the milestone occasion of her 100th Birthday. Her daughter, Carla Hazard Tomaszewski, proudly stands at her side. To their left is a watercolor of maternal “Grandpa Walenty Staszak with Strawberries” painted in 1963 by his now-centenarian granddaughter, whom he fondly called “Stacia.”

Her wartime duties included preparing for publication photo spreads from the European and Pacific fronts. Stella was also sent by the Sun to different military training sites to chronicle the important role of women in our armed forces. She produced several full broadside spreads of drawings from those assignments. After the war ended the Sun assigned Stella to draw the latest fashions as they were introduced from New York’s famed 7th Avenue designer houses. Retirement from the newspaper came in 1947 with the birth of her firstborn child Charles Roger. Daughter Carla Martha followed in 1952, completing the family roster.

Over the years, Stella has painted numerous commissions for churches, synagogues, private patrons, scientific institutions, varied subjects that caught her artist’s eye … and naturally as an expression of love for her family and friends. At her birthday reception, 44 paintings, watercolors, drawings and sketches were displayed that reflected the full range of her amazing abilities.

As the years rolled by, Stella held top artistic positions at two other top colleges, as well as pursuing other academic pursuits and attaining a Master’s Degree before retiring at age 64. Not one to laze around in retirement, Stella then pursed her hobby of manuscript illumination, iconography and calligraphy. Additionally, she and daughter Carla founded a commercial graphics studio – Poppyfield Press – to actively promote knowledge and appreciation of Polish culture, history and traditions presently and forward into the future.

And so as we wished and sang “Sto lat” (Live for 100 Years!) in Polish to artist Stanislawa “Stella” Dernoga Hazard in the past, we now must happily wish and sing to her “Dwiescie lat” (200 Years!) into the next century of her spry life.

Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau
November 6, 2015
Text: Richard Poremski & Carla Tomaszewski
Photo: Richard Poremski

Picture below: Reception hall decorated 360* with 44 of Stella’s artistic works (1934-2012)