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The Drummer

By KAREN LAVEN

John Petermeier can make a pencil dance. This common stylus, when held in Petermeier's clasp, does not merely fill in forms, memo's or lists; but expertly waltz's across the page, painstakingly filling in lines of compassion on a saint's face, or capturing the subtle shading of a landscapes personality.

Petermeier draws wildlife creatures, domestic critters, portraits, landscapes, castles--you name it--if it causes Petermeier to do a double take, it will likely end up on canvas. He draws what he is inspired to--not a particular specialty. "I don't want to limit myself," he said.

Not one to impose artistic restrictions, Petermeier has experimented with many mediums, but gravitates towards utilizing pencil, colored pencil, design marker and computer sketching.

It is the pencil that he finds the most challenging and most rewarding. The often-minute lines are fashioned one at a time, and manipulating the shading to exacting tones is pivotal, as well. There is much intricacy and time involved when creating art using the slender lead apparatus.

Although he was born in Minneapolis, Petermeier spent the most memorable portion of his childhood in Watertown and is now once again living in the beloved town where he grew up. "I like the stability of living in a small town," he said. "I like the small town atmosphere."

Throughout his childhood, he was drawing and expressing himself in various mediums. 'There was never any doubt I'd go into art," he said. "Growing up, I was a pretty quiet kid," he said, adding that he would often sketch in this solitude.

After graduating from Watertown High, he enrolled in Mankato State University where he "took two years of art in one year," said Petermeier. It proved a bit much. "I think I OD'ed on it!" he exclaimed.

Actually, the commercial art classes were so exacting said Petermeier that it was more like being back in math class than art. Definitely, it did not fit with his artistic palette.

Petermeier then swiveled career directions by attending Brown Institute where he trained for radio and television broadcasting. He immediately discovered that he was as comfortable in front of a microphone as he was in front of a blank canvas. "It was a different way of expressing myself," he said.

The surprisingly soft-spoken man off-air, began his on-air radio career announcing at a Country Western station along the Iowa/Missouri border. Petermeier subsequently moved to a different station in Iowa, and it was there that he took the radio call name of J.P. Meier. Following this, as is often the case with radio personalities, Petermeier moved several times to several Midwest radio stations.

The DJ is now happily rooted at Hit-106 KARP in Hutchinson. He is admittedly in his element at the microphone mingling his lively banter with country tunes, Thursday's and Friday's from 2 to 7 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 5:30 am to noon. He job-shares the position with Sandy Buetler.

In addition, he writes and produces commercials for the station. "I love radio and being on the air," said Petermeier. "It's an instant kick." As he advanced in his radio career, however, his artistic career was put on the back burner.

His drawings emerged only periodically and mostly to entertain family and friends in the form of cartoons. Also, he created some artwork for Wells Fargo and Traveler's Express, but it was sporadic. Even though art was always a part of his life, Petermeier commented, "I never put a whole lot of value into it."

Thankfully, said Petermeier, John Mons, Operations Manager at KARP always did...and still does! Mons has always been a highly vocal supporter of Petermeier, both artistically and at the station, and had been pestering him for years to devote more energy to his art.

Together, Mons and Petermeier have set up a website entitled, Prairie Wind Art. It features Petermeier's work in an online gallery; allowing the public to view his creations and contact him if they are interested in purchasing it.

The website is still in its early stages and will likely evolve much in the coming months, said Petermeier. No doubt, Petermeier is extremely busy nowadays, periodically taking on commissioned work in addition to his own projects. "I've drawn more in the last two years than in the all the years since college put together," he said.

Amazingly enough, Petermeier also finds the time to hold down a part-time position with Traveler's Express--performing customer service duties from his home office.

It comes as no surprise to learn that Petermeier has to make a conscientious effort to find time to create his art. It is usually in the evenings and only if he has the energy left, he said. Yet the artist shared that he has enjoyed watching the quality of his work improve this last 24 months, and added that he is his own worst critic.

Petermeier commented that talent is ensconced within his family. "Everyone is artistic in one way or another," he said. His mother was very creative and an avid supporter of her son's work. Sadly, she passed away several years ago due to cancer.

Petermeier spent much of that time following her terminal diagnosis with his mother. "I wanted to be near her," he said. Admittedly, the trials and joys one face in life often affect their work, and Petermeier is no exception. He recalls that he began drawing more seriously again while sitting by her side.

An admittedly religious man, Petermeier also credits his audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican for helping nudge him back to his artistic roots. "The Pope has been a champion of the arts," said Petermeier, adding that the Pontiff once said, "'The Church needs artist's and artist's need the Church.'"

This blessed opportunity, coupled with the aforementioned pronouncement, propelled Petermeier to concentrate on his art more than ever. Since that meeting several years ago, he has drawn several pictures of the Pope and a marvelous depiction of Mother Theresa, which is very well-received by the public. His most popular drawing, however, is his depiction of a wolf. One look into those striking eyes and it's easy to see why.

Petermeier is also an avid photographer and is considering perhaps showing and/or selling some of his photographs in the future. Often, he will be inspired while passing a farmstead or a landscape and will stop to claim the moment with snap of his 35mm camera. He then bases many of his drawings upon these photos.

Whether speaking about radio announcing or drawing, it's obvious he enjoys doing both. This double-career combination suits him well. Petermeier gets the camaraderie and quick gratification only radio can provide, and also achieves an artistic legacy with his drawings. "My art will live on long after I'm gone," he said.

Whatever his future holds, Petermeier commented that he accepts that what takes place is often out of his hands. "I leave that up to God," he said. "I really do."

John Petermeier's work can be viewed at www.prairiewindart.com. He can also be reached via e-mail on the web site.
     

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