Clipped From The Morning Call

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT D FRIDAY, MAY 25, 1979 SECTION Chronicling nature's signs By ROBERT C. KOTOWSKI Of The Morning Call George Bockius first public art exhibition was hand-lettered cards describing a Philadelphia doctor's plastic models of the inner ear at an Atlantic City medical convention in 1934. ) Today, the only canals among Bockius' 30 oil paintings hanging at His Own, Ltd., art gallery in Skippack Village are his scenes of the Chesapeake Bay area. Bockius, living in Marlborough Township for 29 of his 66 years, describes himself as a semiretired sign painter whose ambition as a youth in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia was to be an illustrator. Instead, he developed skills in sign painting and lettering while attending night classes at the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art (now the Philadelphia College of Art). In the Depression years, an illustrator's career, as with most occupations, "was dead," according to Bockius. He speaks with animation a sparkle in his blue eyes while telling about the descriptive cards he lettered for Dr. James Mendel in 1934. They were payment for a medical bill he owed the ear, nose and throat specialist. It was the same enthusiastic, yet softly spoken manner he had when he proudly pointed out that his exhibit (continuing through June 30) at Robert and Betsy Wechtler's six-month-old gallery is his first one-man exhibition since his subtly toned, simple landscapes of the Upper Perkiomen Valley, Chesapeake Bay and Nova Scotia began bringing him recognition as an artist in 1972. "I don't know how I got interested in it," he says. "I guess it was just there, that's all." BOCKIUS' UPBRINGING as the second youngest of Charles and Martha Bockius' three sons and three daughters was not particularly art-oriented. But "there must be some sort of art streak running through the family," muses the silver-haired, casually dressed Bockius." His cousin, David Bockius, is an architect in Seattle, Wash. Bockius' daughter Susan is a botanical illustrator. There is a distant relationship with stained-glass artist Morgan Bockius in Hartsville. "And Wyeth's mother is a Bockius," he says. "We traced that back. We had the same great-great-grandfather, Christopher Bockius. "I don't know if I should say that. Do you think I should? It sounds like I'm trying to climb onto Wyeth. I'm nothing of his stature," Bockius' venture into landscape painting as a vocation did not begin in earnest until he met Charles Gardener, founder of the Upper Perkiomen Valley Art Center. "I , think he really, really got me started," Bockius says. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he trained with Gardener and artists Paul Gorka, H. Theodore Hallman Sr. and Louise Stahl. He enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, but there was "very little instruction" because of the class sizes. By then, he says, painting styles had changed dramatically since his days studying industrial art. They were "more way out" in the 1960s and '70s. "It was raw color. I like a more subtle use of color." IT SHOWS IN his work. Some of Bockius' paintings have a pastel appearance in texture and hue, a quality Bockius hadn't noticed before. : " k i ' "That's interesting," he says. "I never thought of it. -I'll have to look at it in that light." ; Bockius works toward what he terms an ' 'elegant simplicity" in his paintings, "a really difficult task." He says it is a delicate balance of "actually abstracting to get the essentials;. yet, I don't want to abstract to the point where it's a nonobjective painting," Through his paintings of Sumneytown, the Unami Creek, Green Lane and other Upper Perkiomen Valley scenery, Bockius "has become a chronicler of the its countryside, recording its old buildings, its commonplace sightsit changing face," according to Wechtler's description of Bockius' exhibit. "I don't know if I'm a chronicler really," Bockius says. "I think the Upper Perkiomen Valley has so much beauty to it. It's one of the most beautiful for painting. Many people don't realize it." From his Upper Ridge Road home until the trees grew to a height which partially blocked it Bockius could see as far as Hereford Township. THE AREA'S sylvan quality, particularly the continually changing sky, partially drew Bockius and his wife '.. Martha to Marlborough Township from Chestnut Hill in '-' 1950.. Also, he says, they ' 'had a rambunctious boy, a 3-year-old" whose curiosity and energy needed more room to roam. That boy, George W. Jr., is a pilot for Allegheny Airlines. . j "When my wife was here a month, she wanted to go back to Philadelphia,!' Bockius recalls. "For months the ' only thing we saw moving was a neighbor's dog." After a year Mrs. Bockius, a registered nurse who works part-time at Grand View Hospital. Sellersville, handed her husband the original sale sign for their property as a birthday present and told him she wanted to stay in the valley. Bockius was asked what he would want to know if he was interviewing himself. "I'd ask, 'Have you had a full life'?" He answered. "I guess so and just hope that the Lord will let me go a little longer till I can really do more of what I want to, and that's express myself as I see nature." 1",,, fljff 1 J"" A George Bockius puts ""IrQf'ft, finishing touch on one of k nis lanascapes

Clipped from
  1. The Morning Call,
  2. 25 May 1979, Fri,
  3. Main Edition,
  4. Page 59

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