Local artist amazed by acclaim



By Marilyn Delk

John Kiser is an award-winning artist, whose amazing work is currently on display at the Anna Bier Gallery; however, John will tell you that never in his wildest dreams did he expect to one day see a solo exhibit of his work displayed in an art gallery. He says he just paints what he likes, and continues to be amazed by the acclaim he has received.

If you attended the Anna Bier Gallery’s Holiday Show, you may remember seeing John’s lovely and timeless Pink Harbor; the work depicts two charming docked pink rowboats. John explains that while serving in the U.S. Navy, he spent three years working on a submarine support ship stationed near Sardinia, Italy — a place where he felt that he had “stepped back in time.” Almost every evening when he took a ferry to the mainland for dinner, he viewed these little boats that stood out as unique amid the large modern vessels in the harbor. His painting of those little boats was selected by the Ohio Arts Council in 2016 to hang at the Riffe Gallery in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts, was included in a hardback publication entitled Acrylic Works 4, and published in Plein Aire Magazine before earning a first place ribbon at the Anna Bier Gallery.

John grew up in Pleasant Hill where he enjoyed going fishing in the nearby Stillwater River; his interest in wildlife continues to motivate much of his work. “Preening” delightfully depicts a young Baltimore Oriole who had alighted on the back deck of John’s current home just outside of Greenville, and whose noisy presence was disturbing his daughter as she was trying to study. Another appealing young bird is captured in “Spring Dove,” the subject of which surprisingly allowed the artist to come quite near to take photos, which he then re-created and edited with his paintbrush.

An inviting Hawaiian beach is depicted in “Bellows,” which John says is his favorite beach in the world. This work, intended as a study for a yet-to-be-created larger painting, was informed by paint swatches the artist created to exactly match the magnificent blues of the sky and the sea that surrounded him. John’s only formal training occurred at a workshop offered by Wisconsin artist Dan Gerhartz, whose art “expresses his passion for the beauty that surrounds us with honestly and mastery of his craft.” The same description can be attached to the work of his pupil.

John’s eclectic career path at one time saw him building custom guitar amplifiers, some of which went to famous recording artists such as Peter Frampton, Dick Dale, and the rock group Iron Butterfly. Some of his artwork reflects this passion for guitars, including “Relic Strat,” described by the artist as a beloved “well-worn, well-played Fender Stratocaster” and “Squire,” a guitar which John had shipped to him while he was serving in Iraq, and which he says is “a great guitar that has been around the world.” These and other such paintings, correct in every detail, are warmly rendered, revealing the artist’s affection for his subject, and inspiring like feelings in the viewer.

For the past seven years, John has been lovingly working on a detailed painting entitled “Kulinda,” intended as a tribute to the magnificent rhinoceros that he saw while visiting the Columbus Zoo; not yet completed when I visited the exhibit, it has since been hung in the Gallery where I am eagerly anticipating viewing it. You can view the rhino’s portrait as well, along with the rest of John’s amazing work, at an artist’s reception in the Gallery from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26, prior to Darke County Center for the Arts’ presentation of “Motones and Jerseys: In Concert,” and by visiting the Anna Bier Gallery Sundays from 12 noon until 2 p.m. or by appointment. For more information, contact Gallery Director CeCelia Rice at [email protected] or 937-564-7568. The Anna Bier Gallery is located within historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, 215 West Fourth Street, Greenville.

Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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