■ BY SUSAN HANAFEE
The guys are back in town. The “guys” being four talented artists who will be showing off their skills with brush, canvas and shells on Jan. 24, 25 and 26 at the Boca Grande Art Center.
The weekend show features artists Johan Bjurman, John (Rocky) Dedrick, John W. Mitchell Sr. and Bob Vorel. The opening reception will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24. The show will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 25 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Bjurman and Mitchell are veterans from last year’s successful all-male show. The new kids on the block are Dedrick and Vorel – although both names are familiar to island art lovers.
For 40 years, Johan Bjurman has been involved in the arts through outdoor advertising as a pictorial painter, the film industry as a scenic painter, designing and painting large scale murals, and historic restoration.
Now retired from the commercial endeavors, he has turned his attention to plein air landscape painting and studio still life. His primary interest is in working from life for a better understanding of light, space and the energies of the surrounding environment.
In recent years he has enjoyed capturing the vistas and wildlife of the Florida Suncoast where he now lives. He recently was awarded first place in the first annual Cowboy Art Exhibit in Arcadia. The Lightchasers Plein Air Painters, the Visual Arts Center of Punta Gorda, the DeSoto Arts Council and the Englewood Art Center also have recognized his work.
John (Rocky) Dedrick describes himself as an amateur who paints with oils. He started painting after he retired, falling in love with this new hobby. He took lessons in Boca Grande from Cecilia Bisset and the late Jack Horner and discovered that he had a broad range of interests – from dog portraits to landscapes.
“Lately I’ve become alarmed at the tragic loss of songbirds and their habitat and have begun to include birds in my work,” he explains. His part of the show will include many wonderful paintings of our featured friends.
Rocky spent his entire 48-year working career at the West Bend Mutual Insurance Company in his hometown. During that time, he was responsible for assembling a corporate art collection featuring Wisconsin artists that now totals more than 500 works. He says that effort had a profound nurturing effect on his interest in art.
After retiring, he took on the role of capital campaign chair for the construction of a regional art museum dedicated to Wisconsin art. The Museum of Wisconsin Art opened five years ago and has since earned many awards.
John W. Mitchell Sr. was a licensed funeral director for 55 years. Now that his two sons have taken over the family business and the Mitchell’s two funeral homes in Michigan, John has plenty of time to be creative. And he is. He often has a sketch pad, paint brush or something artsy in his hands.
His current medium is oil and shell art, much of which is created from the items he and his wife, Gloria, gather on their long beach walks. His style of painting ranges from representational to abstract; he uses both brush and pallet knife technique.
“I especially enjoy working with Eastern oyster shells from Boca Grande. No two oyster shells are alike, so it’s always a challenge to use them,” he says.
John is past president and an exhibiting member of the Boca Grande Art Center. His works hang in the Chelsea (Michigan) Community Hospital and in homes in Boca Grande and throughout the country. He is a member of the Oil Painters of America.
Bob Vorel is a graduate of the Fine Arts College at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where he received a BFA in design. Following graduation, he enjoyed working as a sculptor and painter. He has worked in the arts field as a graphic designer, photographer, writer, woodworker, publisher and art director.
In 1990, he founded Blues Revue, selling it in 2003 as the world’s largest circulated blues music publication. Since then he has devoted most of his time to painting in watercolors, acrylics and oils.
Bob has exhibited at one-man shows and group shows in the Shepherdstown, Leesburg, Millwood, Virginia and Boca Grande areas, and recently had his work accepted in the Cumberland Valley Artists exhibition at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.
“Light, composition, tone and value are always present as the foundation of each painting, but the ‘story’ of the image is at the heart of my paintings. Rarely bold, the story is often subtle and left to the viewer’s sense of mystery. These paintings are moments and stories from my world. I hope you enjoy them,” he says.
It’s a sentiment shared by all four men, who invite you to come to the show and enjoy their artistic endeavors.