by Edie Moser
David Ohlerking’s unique perspective on his subjects puts him in a category of the phantasmagorical. Oil paint melting off brush onto canvas, suggesting the imagery in the film “What Dreams May Come”.
Although landscapes are frequent subjects, what he excels at is portrait painting. Julie Druzak, David’s partner, shares, “It has turned into an eclectic history of the town and the people. As they are sitting for the paintings, they are telling their stories. Things were hard and easy, dichotomies of how the town was created. It was fascinating to have both sides of the coin.”
On May 8th, 2018, from 6-9 pm at the historic Doylestown Inn located at 18 W. State Street in Doylestown, many of his recent works of art will be on display in an exhibit entitled Doylestown People.
According to Francine Marsalona, hostess of the Doylestown Inn, “It is the best gift that we could have ever gotten, because without this opportunity, we would never have been able to get into the life of the locals. We realize the legacy that they will leave behind.”
Doylestown is a community filled with all sorts of interesting characters. It celebrates diversity and creativity as well as the power of bringing people together for a shared purpose. Imagine a town like the bar Cheers, ‘a place where everybody knows your name.’ You can walk down the street and see familiar faces and experience warm welcomes. This event, called Doylestown People celebrates all those aspects of our little town. David has taken paint brush to canvas and featured some of Doylestown’s recognizable folks.
I had the opportunity to be painted, as I sat perched on a stool in the lobby of the inn, watching David’s expertly tuned eyes darting back and forth between me and the canvas and cans of multi-hued paints. The results were humorous and playful. I was decked out in a black t-shirt with the words I Love You emblazoned on it and he made the red heart that was the O in Love, drip down. I joked that he captured the essence of this bleeding heart, tree hugging, crunchy granola hippie. David acknowledged that it is his goal when he features people in his artistry.
Happenings Media: How old were you when you first dipped a brush into paint and created?
David Ohlerking: I was four years old. My parents gave coloring books and I wouldn’t color between the lines but on white parts of pages. They finally got me plain paper with no stuff on it. I didn’t like the stuff on it. My uncle was a landscape architect and city planner in Chicago and director of forestry in Boulder City, Nevada where Hoover Dam is and taught me how to draw and paint. When I was a little kid in the Philippines, I had an art teacher from 4th to 7th grade, who loved art so much he wanted us to love it too. I had a music teacher who let me play Moonlight Sonata. My dad wanted me to be an artist which no dad ever said. I wanted to be a musician. I studied at Southwest Missouri State. The musical genre I played, was art goth. Imagine mixing Yes and the Cure. Now I play at open mics. My former band called The Awful Truth had a reunion recently. I opened for Nirvana solo 1988 or so on their first tour. The music business hurt my feelings deeply, so I went back to art. My dad was right. He has since passed, and we were super good friends. I achieved some success before he died. I painted him for a Father’s Day show in Austin Texas.
HM: Into which genre would your painting fall?
DO: Post- Impressionist and Expressionist. Monk is my favorite.
HM: When I look at your work, I have a sense of the psychedelic. What do you see?
DO: I’m trying to get the feeling when you are in the room with that person, looking at the building or hanging by that tree. When you paint, you’re making up a language that nobody knows. I tap into who people are. The muscles in your face show how you think. Your thoughts etch themselves onto your face.
HM: Is this the first time you have done Doylestown People? What do you want viewers to experience?
DO: I did portraits in New Hope and then saw D-town Magazine and came here and set up in front of Siren Records. I painted a ton of people and kept coming back. I then went to Chapman Gallery and told them I had painted portraits and a bunch of parents came in with paintings to frame. Once I was painting in Death Valley on the side of road. A car pulled in front of me and yelled out the window, “You painted me at Siren Records in Doylestown.”
My favorite moment was painting a girl I used to work with. The first show was at a hair salon/gallery in Texas. When I brought the painting in, her sister said, “Oh, that’s my sister!” When someone else sees it and recognizes the person, that’s what I want.
A few of his notable local subjects include:
Ron Strouse- Mayor of Doylestown
Blake Lertzman-Dtown Tech
Ian Baldock-Meter Guy
Scott Fleischer-Fire Marshal
Beth Fritz-Doylestown Tennis
Melinda Lynn Bowyer-The Uber Queen
Frank Ventresca- Ventrescas
Bruce Rutherford-Rutherford Camera
Tom Manion- Travis Manion Foundation
To learn more about David, go to: www.Davidohlerking.com