By Josette Keelor
Artists Ron Boehmer and Peter Loftus met 40 years ago while studying art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. They have similar interests, and as both pursued careers as painters, their deep friendship has strengthened their passion for art.
Their joint art exhibit, "Boehmer-Loftus -- A Forty Year Dialog," is at The Art Group Gallery, at 5998 Main St., Mt. Jackson, through April, and it's what the artists call an excerpt of a first exhibition at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lynchburg last October.
Boehmer, who lives in Lynchburg, said the running communication he's had with Loftus, who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., has influenced them both.
"[During] our contact in formative years at [MICA], we learned as much from each other as we did from any of our teachers or instructors," he said by phone recently.
Impressionist painter Edouard Manet was one of Loftus' first great influences in college, Boehmer remembered, "and for me it was Van Gogh and Vermeer along with another host of people, but it's really hard to narrow that down."
"[Their interest] is far beyond the visual arts world, and that is one of the common bonds between Peter and I," Boehmer said.
Artists of all mediums and types have influenced the two men, he said, and they are as much influenced by the Greatful Dead as they have been by professionals in sports, philosophy, theology and eastern meditation. "It's all inclusive," he said.
In promotional materials for the exhibit, Loftus describes their college professor Raoul Middleman as a hybrid of traditional realism and new realism, two artistic expressions that were popular at MICA during the early '70s. Middleman's reverence for painting rubbed off on him and Boehmer, and that was when their serious discussions of art began.
Since moving to opposite coasts after finishing graduate school in the early 1970s, the two artists have kept in touch over the years through letters and three- to four- hour phone calls, even to the exclusion of email.
In promotional material for the art show, Boehmer wrote, "The frequent contact, especially through times of struggles with life and career issues, or with the ebb and flow of triumph and failures in the process of making paintings, has helped sustain me on my path."
The Lynchburg and Mt. Jackson shows fall on the 40th anniversary of the year the men shared studio space at the University of Pennsylvania after college and the last time they exhibited their work together.
Boehmer said he learned about The Art Group Gallery when he signed up for a workshop in Woodstock about a year ago. He plans to offer a talk or demonstration at the TAGG toward the end of April once he nails down a date.
For more information about the exhibit and a future talk or demonstration, call The Art Group Gallery at 477-4131.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org