Member Spotlight: John Ozimek

WNYBAC appreciates the creative and diverse members who make up our community.

Follow along as we celebrate one outstanding member each week!

John Ozimek’s confidence as an artist grew out of the WNYBAC facility and the programs we offer. Our workshops and studio space allowed John to explore forms of expression he might otherwise never have had the opportunity to, and to grow as an artist.

~ Self portrait printed with a rutabaga ~

“My story may be a little strange,” he says about how he got started in the arts community. You see, John’s story does not begin with art. It begins with science. He was always interested in science, and it was this first passion that lead to his passion for art. He recalls spending hours looking at things under a microscope when he was growing up and starting to draw what he saw, which inevitably lead to drawing other things. He stressed that he had no idea what he was doing, especially when he first started. But he also recounted a story from before he was ever a member at WNYBAC, of the first time someone expressed interest in buying some of his artwork. He must have had more of an idea what he was doing than he thought!

The story goes that he had some of his art displayed at his desk at work, and one day one of his co-workers asked him about it, and asked if he would be able to purchase a piece. John, thinking he wasn’t good enough to sell his work, brought in some of his paintings, and told his co-worker he could have any three he wanted.

~ Another print created with a rutabaga ~

That’s where WNYBAC comes in. WNYBAC didn’t make John’s work good enough to sell. The skill was already there. It just gave him the confidence to believe in that skill.

“I’m thankful to her for changing my life in a positive way”

John’s been a member here for more than 5 years, and most of those years he’s shown work in our annual member show. At first, he didn’t want to participate, though. He was approached about participating right after his first workshop by the instructor, Khrista. John says he’s glad she was persistent: “I’m thankful to her for changing my life in a positive way.”

Since then, John says participating in the member show is one of his goals for every year. He displays linoleum block prints, and sometimes he sells his work. He is also a member at Hallwall’s and recently sold a painting during the member show there. The painting was of some spiders he had encountered while out hiking. Because of his background in science, John draws a lot of his inspiration from nature. His very first painting was of a silverfish. One of his recent artworks was a linoleum block print of some fossil coral he found on a rock, again while out hiking.

His piece for this year’s member’s show is different though. It’s called Tense Conversation, and is a drypoint print of two people talking with their stomachs twisted in knots of anxiety. Rather than being inspired by nature, this one is inspired by an artist John looks up to: George Roualt, a famous French artist contemporary of Picasso. The style of Tense Conversation is inspired by Roualt’s We Are Crazy.

~ Tense Conversation ~

John also has a bigger project in mind. This one is nature inspired, and features daphnia, a microscopic organism that lives in Lake Hoyt. John thinks daphnia are so cool because they have an organ that functions like a natural backpack, and that’s how they carry their babies around. So his idea is to make a print of a daphnia with two babies inside it’s backpack. Well actually, three prints (of the same daphnia and babies), all using a different medium, lined up side by side.

He’s not sure when he’ll complete this piece, but he knows he’ll have to make use of WNYBAC’s open studio time to do so. John says getting the opportunity to use the studio is one of the best parts about being a member at WNYBAC.

His other favorite part is the workshops. Which makes sense, considering he’s taken almost all of them. John has taken workshops in everything from book binding to print making. He was most taken with our printmaking workshops, and uses the skills he learned from those most frequently.

“One of the coolest  places in Buffalo”

Of the workshops, John says they’ve helped him connect with the rest of the WNYBAC community. He meets people here, particularly instructors, who are part of the larger Buffalo arts community, a community John wants to see grow even more. That’s why he always spreads the news about WNYBAC to people he talks to who are unfamiliar with our organization. He describes the organization as “one of the coolest places in Buffalo.”

John certainly shows his love for WNYBAC through his involvement as a member. Every year he participates in our member show, attends workshops, and frequents exhibition openings.

John was an artist long before he became a WNYBAC member. It started with drawing what he observed under a microscope, and continued through the time when he was painting everyday. Today, he’s an active member in two community arts organizations and displays and sells his work at shows.

~ Microscope and animals living in Hoyt Lake ~

John’s story is one that tells of the meeting of two passions: science and art, and how these two subjects, which so many people perceive as opposites, can be so very beautiful when combined. John was always an artist, whether or not this was a title he was always comfortable adopting for himself. WNYBAC helped him develop as an artist, and helped him develop his confidence as an artist, and that’s our mission in action.

Join our community and support our 2018 Membership Drive!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders listed below, for providing support to WNYBAC's ongoing programs taking place throughout Western New York:

NYSCA M & T Art 4 Moore Zenger Group Evans Bank Community Foundation
Baird Foundation Cameron Jane Wendt Foundation StoryGrowing