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Featured Artist


Jon Arfstrom's prolific career as as artist spanned seven decades. Largely self taught, he began as a portrait artist at the age of fifteen on a Great Lakes cruise ship. In the late 1940's and early 1950's he began contributing to the Pulp magazine "Weird Tales" and later would be recognized as the last living cover artist. His notable 50 year career as a commercial artist included his work at Gambles, Lakeland Press and Brown & Bigelow. He retired from Brown & Bigelow after 40 years of service, where he was one of the last physical artists in a digital world.

As a fine artist Jon was extremely versatile in many mediums, mastering pencil, pen and ink, watercolor, oil and acrylics. He was accomplished in portraiture, landscape, fantasy and surrealism, the genre for which he is perhaps most recognized. Jon was President of the NorthStar Watercolor Society and recipient of many local, national, and international awards. His work can be found in private collections, colleges, corporations and museums around the world.

When asked, Jon would say his favorite subject was "people" and it is clearly evident in his exceptional watercolors and the intense detail in his portraits. He spent every moment observing others in everyday life. Whether he was with his wife Norma, their children and grandchildren or out by himself exploring on his bike, Jon was never without his sketchbook. He wrote, sketched, painted and mused over his subjects daily which produced a series of 60+ sketchbook journals that are works of art in themselves. They represent his true character and persistence to advance his talent and document his artistic vision.

Jon was most comfortable painting familiar scenes of landscapes and figurative subjects with watercolor, many inspired by boats and water scenes, but his passion was expressed most significantly in the dreamscapes of his surreal acrylic paintings. This quote by Jon summarizes it best...

"Whether my art is called surrealistic, metaphysical, or poetic, the essence of it is to search the imagination; to delve into the subconscious; to reach deep into the hidden recesses of that psychological world that is our heritage...and to bring forth with color and shapes a unique personal vision that may sometimes shock, but also strives to intrigue the intellect and entertain the eye."  

Jon's tenacious spirit and enduring creative vision will always be remembered through the legacy he has bequeathed to future generations through his art.