By Maggie Grainger
The rugged Big Sur coastline and all of its beauty has been inspiring authors like Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac for decades. Combining sweeping redwoods and breathtaking beaches with a free-spirit attitude, it’s not hard to see why this unique stretch of California casts a magical spell on all who visit it.
“How could you not fall in love?” J.W. Winslow says enthusiastically from her house in Pebble Beach. The author, poet, and artist first moved to Pacific Grove in 1988 and fell so in love with the area that she decided to settle here permanently. Not only has Monterey County been her home for more than 25 years, but it also serves as the backdrop for her book trilogy, Mystic Adventures in Big Sur: Jasmine Dogs Vol. I, II, and III.
Now, Winslow has made a name for herself in the community, not only as an established artist and author, but also as a television host and local personality with not one, but two shows to her credit. Her weekly show, Winslow Art, airs every Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. and features artists, musicians, and photographers who also draw inspiration from the area.
She also hosts a segment on Your Town, a monthly show that takes her all over the county exploring new or historical sites and meeting people from all walks of life and hearing their stories.
This curiosity and love of the arts started before Winslow had even learned to walk. Born Judith Wynne Winslow in Los Angeles, she recalls the bright lights of Hollywood as a child. Her father, Dick Winslow, supported his family working as an actor. Over his 50-plus year career, he worked with everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Elvis Presley, whom she met on the set of the 1960 film, G.I. Blues. Winslow even celebrated her first birthday on the Paramount Studios lot.
Her mother was also a creative spirit, and at one point, her parents even toured the country in a band together. With so much talent flowing in her gene pool, it was only a matter of time until Winslow started expressing herself through the arts, adding a dash of Hollywood glitz and glamour to everything she touched.
She started going by J.W. early on in her career, when people asked her how she wanted to be billed. “I prefer J.W. because it’s autonomous and you don’t judge the work by male/female précis early on,” she explains. “It’s more fun to judge art by its content and movement.”
Winslow’s life changed forever after her young husband’s sudden death while jogging along a Southern California beach. Friends and family offered to take her into their homes all around California, but it wasn’t until she saw the ocean from Fisherman’s Wharf that she knew she had found a home on the Central Coast.
To support her artistic endeavors, Winslow worked at an architectural firm in Monterey by day so she could paint and write at night. Her dedication finally paid off when she self-published her first book, Sensual Indigo, in 1998. The success of the book inspired her to start her own publishing company, Fresh Art Publishing, where she continues to self-publish her own works today and prints all of her green books in the area.
The ever-busy Winslow admits she’s always thinking of her next project and finds solace and inspiration in her Pebble Beach bungalow.