Two new artists join old favorites for upcoming ‘Guys Art Show’

January 16, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

BY SUSAN HANAFEE – Two artists new to Boca Grande will be joining favorites Johan Bjurman and John Mitchell Sr. as the men put on their masks and raise their brushes for the third annual Guys Art Show next week.

The show opens Friday, January 22, at the Boca Grande Art Alliance from noon to 5 p.m. and continues on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We are excited to team up with these very talented artists, Val Chapko and Joe Palmerio,” says Mitchell. “Both of these men are highly regarded in their fields, and it will be a treat to have their works on display and available for purchase at the island’s art center.”

Valdimir “Val” Chapko was born in a small mining town in Belgium and emigrated to the U.S. in 1956 with his parents, who settled in Philadelphia. When he was nine, his parents enrolled him a local art school run by a society of Ukrainian artists. He spent his formative years drawing in charcoal and painting in watercolor, then progressing to oils.

Val Chapko

After graduating from high school in 1966, he enrolled in the Philadelphia College of Art.  Frustrated by the work he was doing at the industrial arts college, he joined the Marine Corps and made “illustrator” his occupational specialty.

Following his discharge from the Marines, he decided to pursue his love of painting by enrolling at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  While at the Academy, he studied under Arthur De Costa, a master still-life painter.

He graduated from the academy and in 1977 took a job with an outdoor advertising company, painting 50-foot canvases. “We painted monumental pictures using three or four-inch brushes that we called mops. We called ourselves wall-dogs,” he explains. “Many of the painters in the industry were fine artists in their own right and some were professional mural painters recruited from Europe.”

In 1995, while living in the San Francisco Bay area, Val quit painting billboards and decided to become a full-time artist. He is a member of the Society of Western Artist and the Mt. Diablo Artists Association and has exhibited in numerous art shows, as well as giving painting demonstrations to art clubs around the Bay Area. His works have been on display at the Mulligan-Shanoski Gallery in San Francisco and New Masters in Carmel, California. He is represented by the 1870 Gallery in Yountville, California.

In 2014, Val and his wife moved to North Port, where he became a member of the Visual Art Center.

Joe Palmerio

Joe Palmerio, a resident of Sarasota for 28 years, is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he studied landscape painting with Lou Sloan, and of the Barnes Foundation in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania. He also studied sculpture at the Frudakis Academy and metal sculpture at Tyler School of Art, Temple University.

A roofer by trade, he also worked for 23 years as a recreation leader for the City of Philadelphia and was the director of recreation for the Ute Mountain Ute Indian tribe in Colorado. He has a private pilot’s license and maintains a Master Captains boating license, having captained boats for 12 years. He also starred in the short art film, A Lot In Common, which was shown at the Sarasota Film Festival in 2011.

Joe taught painting in community arts centers in Philadelphia and Colorado and spent seven years instructing physically challenged adults in Philadelphia. He presented a highly acclaimed seminar at the St. Bridget Arts Council on Venetian Painting Techniques in Philadelphia and was the artist-in-residence for the Everglades National Park in Florida and the Great Sand Dune National Park in Colorado. Joe has appeared on numerous television program and in NPR Arts Edition interviews with Amy Tardiff.

This award-winning artist is represented by Dabbert Gallery in Sarasota and the Waterfront Gallery in Apalachicola, among others. His works also appear in numerous private collections throughout the country. His commissions include two 12 x 42-foot murals for Motivation Inc. (Atocha Treasure Ship) in the Orlando Airport and a 10 x 40-foot mural for the Duval House bed and breakfast in Key West.

Joe’s paintings emphasize a soft brushwork that captures the fleeting moments of nature. “As a representational painter, I am grabbed initially by the abstract shapes, which allows for a strong composition on which to present the subtle colors of nature…”

Johan Bjurman has been involved in the arts through outdoor advertising as a pictorial painter, movies as a scenic painter, designing and painting large scale murals and also through historic restoration.

                     Johan Bjurman

His projects of note include trompe l’oeil lunettes for the Philadelphia Academy of Music, conservation and skyscapes for the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie, New York, and restoration of the façade of the Fleur de Lis Building of the Providence Art Club in Rhode Island.

Now retired from the commercial endeavors, he has turned his attention wholly to his plein air landscapes and studio painting.

Johan’s primary interest is in working from life for a better understanding of light, space and the energies of the surrounding environment.  Seeking to refine the craft and define a truer identity in painting is his life goal.

In recent years, Johan has divided his time between painting typical New England landscapes, particularly around Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, and painting the vistas and wildlife of the Florida Sun Coast where he currently resides.  Johan is a member of the Oil Painters of America (OPA), the Copley Society of Boston and the Light Chasers and Peace River plein air groups. He is also a member of the Englewood Art Center, a division of the Ringling College of Art, where he teaches classes in plein air and acrylic painting.

His award-winning work is part of the permanent collections of the Providence Public Library, the Greenville Public Library and Amica Insurance in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and the Arcadia Public Library, as well as many private collections in New England and Florida.

John Mitchell

John Mitchell Sr., a licensed funeral director for 55 years, has always had the ability to create beauty – a talent to which many of his patrons in Florida and Michigan will attest. He attended the University of Cincinnati School of Art and graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in art design.

Following his retirement in 1990 and while wintering on Boca Grande, John began taking lessons at the Boca Grande Art Center. He became an exhibiting member in 2008. He has since served as president of the Art Center. Since the inception of the annual Art in Bloom spring show, John served for six years as the exhibiting member liaison to the Boca Grande Garden Club.

He is an associate member of Oil Painters of America and is submitting work to become a signature member. While he specializes in local landscapes and architecture, he recently has been creating local signs of various businesses and island maps. His shell art is also very popular.

“Working with shells is a medium that I really enjoy.  Especially creating with eastern oysters. No shells are taken alive and are collected from the beaches of Boca Grande,” he explained.

  John’s work was selected for the hospital in Chelsea, Michigan, and appears in patient rooms and in the hospital’s permanent hall gallery. His work graces the collections of many Boca Grande residents and homes throughout the U. S. and England.

“Walking in the art district of Venice, Italy, I saw a sign on a studio door that read: ‘A good piece of art is one you still love and enjoy after finding out it is worthless.’ How true,” he says, adding that he is looking forward to the third guys show.