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