Murals in Oconto County
About the ArtistSnowy Owl - Location: Robert's Hometown Hardware on Main Street, Oconto
It was definitely a privilege to grow up in Wisconsin. I was always surrounded by family and friends who truly enjoyed the outdoors. My dad and grandfathers were avid hunters and fishermen. The changes of the seasons always spurred the next outing. The two big seasons in my immediate family are boating season and ski season. Weekends were always consumed by time on the water or ski trips up north. We would load up the family van for the coveted winter vacation and head out west to Colorado for a ski vacation.
As a competitive snowboarder in my teen years, I was definitely drawn to the Colorado Rocky Mountains. At 19 years of age, I moved to Colorado to snowboard and attend the Colorado Institute of Art. I have always enjoyed the creative process and fine art painting. Commercial art at the time seemed to be a sensible fit for me. As the world became more digital, my “work” became less illustrative and turned into many hours in front of a computer screen. As an outdoor enthusiast, it wasn’t the greatest fit. Wanting to spend more time on the mountain, I worked in the live music business for many years. That enabled me to earn a living at night and ski and snowboard whenever possible.
To fulfill the creative urge, I also worked as an artisan in a primitive bronze foundry. My mentor John Scott was an amazing artist. The relationship started with me being a laborer for him. I greatly enjoyed the work; it was physically demanding, hot, and dirty! Over a 25-year relationship, John and I definitely adopted each other and became family. He produced artwork on his mountaintop until he passed at age 96. Very inspirational; I miss him.
Eventually, I grew tired of the nightclub business. I worked in the ski industry as a snowcat operator for 18 seasons at Loveland Ski Area. I loved building and maintaining the ski runs and seeing the sunrise from the top of the continental divide every morning, If I wasn’t in whiteout conditions! This lifestyle also enabled me to travel with my wife, Jackie, a school teacher, in the summer months. We have spent many summers living on old boats.
I always knew that I would return to Wisconsin to be with my family. Jackie and I, and our trusty Labrador Maple, moved to Oconto in 2019. We love the small-town feel and great people. The kids are outside playing, and so are the adults! Everyone has been so friendly and inviting.
I also knew that once I “slowed down,” I wanted to rekindle my love for painting. It has always been a challenge to capture an animal's essence or a landscape's beauty. I have always been intrigued by the fascinating idea of evoking emotion through the use of shape and color. Painting is always something that I strive to be “better” at.
Working on the mural project with the City of Oconto has been a real honor. Thanks to everyone involved. I hope that the images bring many smiles. The support system, from the local shops to the artists and artisans in the area, is truly amazing.