The Pony Expressman by Dan Mieduch
By Gussie Fauntleroy
You won’t see it in a literal sense, of course. But behind every Old West scene Dan Mieduch paints is the ghost of a sleek, wide, sexy Pontiac, circa 1965. And behind the artist’s mischievous smile and practiced painter’s hand is the lingering trace of a young man who longed to paint a chromed-up GTO (on canvas) more than he wanted to own one. That’s what happens, you might say, when an artist lives in Detroit and learns his skill from some of the finest automobile illustrators in the history of cars. At least that’s what happened to Mieduch (pronounced ma-duke), who left the Motor City years ago but has never quite lost touch with the lessons he learned there.
Living in Scottsdale, AZ, and painting fine western art since 1975, Mieduch has earned a place in such important venues as the Prix de West Invitational show at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Masters of the American West exhibition at the Autry National Center. His masterfully rendered scenes are known for dramatic lighting, vibrant color, and a sense of authenticity that comes from accurate postures, gestures, and historical artifacts. For Mieduch, “first and foremost, no matter what the subject, it has to be well painted,” he says. “The water has to look as good as the horse.” With a sly grin, he adds, “My aim is to take a lot of the hayseed out of this genre.”
Born in the summer of 1947, Mieduch grew up in Detroit and in the farming community of Clinton, MI, where his father bought and ran a tavern and motel after giving up his previous work as a roofer. Clinton was small-town America. More importantly, it was surrounded by enough farmland for a boy to fall in love with the pure, rich color of sunset gold in a backlit field. A self-described “average boy who went to an average school,” young Mieduch was never one to burn the midnight oil in pursuit of good grades. Other things kept him up at night. For one, the mesmerizing drama and artistry of battleship paintings by illustrator John Steel, whose work was displayed on the boxes of Revell model kits. Printed on glossy, pebble-grain cardboard, the box-top paintings could be cut out and framed. Or copied, by a teenage boy whose first attraction to art was the power and excitement of the subjects themselves. Mieduch remembers spending hours alone late at night, listening to records and losing himself in Steel’s battleships and his own, copied version…
Featured in March 2007
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