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aNna rybaT

b. 1953, Youngstown, OH

Currently live and work in West Sonoma County within view of Mayacamas mountains

and  one half hour from the Pacific Ocean.

I grew up in small town southwest of Cleveland.  In 1967 Dad gave up his job as a draftsman at Jones & Laughlin steel mill, went back to night school to earn master’s degree in teaching. His sacrifice for our family made a profound impression on me. Middle-class in those days meant

doing without things every teenager strives for, yet we never wanted for anything. To help avoid my parents’ the expense of college, I hatched another plan.  I wanted to get away from my small town, steel-mill dependent, Midwest upbringing. It felt boring and not suited to my vision as a bohemian artist.

Instead of college, I travelled abroad to meet ancestral family in Austria, from where my

mother immigrated in 1950.  I began my formal aRt training in Linz, Austria (1971) at an extra-curricular night school class (Figure Drawing) and one year at Modeschule Hetzendorf in Vienna

(1972/3) where I learned fashion and design concepts. Additionally, I studied

Jugendstil, German and Abstract Expressionism with Josef Schützenhofer until 1974

when our son was born.  With no prospects for supporting a child, much less higher

education, I flew home and waited tables.


I joined the Navy in January 1976, still hoping to get to college someday.  Josef immigrated when I secured a job for him at the restaurant where I worked.  He worked days and at night I 

waitressed.  I reported to boot camp in June 1976.

The Navy provided 24 years of crazy fun adventure for a kid from the Midwest: I

jumped out of airplanes, learned Spanish (and diplomacy) in Spain, met with Micronesian tribal

chiefs to enlist Asian Pacific Islander recruits. 

The values stayed with me in my second career as an artist:  Self-discipline, and service above self:

The Navy paid for most of my tuition to attend college after-duty hours. I was accepted to

naval officer candidate school (OCS) in Newport RI and commissioned an ensign in 1982.

Later, the Navy sent me to graduate school at George Washington University (M.A.ed in

Human Resources/Education Leadership - 1990). When I retired (age 47) after 24 years of service, I used G.I. Bill benefits to earn a second undergraduate degree (BFA, Old Dominion University,

2010).  My fellow classmates (average age: 18 – 22) inspired me to pursue (renew) my

abstract calling…in thinking, decision making and in visual expression. Their funny,

fresh ways helped update my conservative Midwest values and my "advanced" age.

In 2012, with my fresh degree and re-found purpose in aRt, we drove across country from Virginia to California to live closer to our son and family in San Francisco. My studio for next 10 years was in WWII Barracks building on closed naval air station in west Sonoma County. 


2024:  Accepted to Fulton Crossing Gallery and moved my studio there.  It is a privilege to part of such tremendous talent in Sonoma County.



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