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John Mielcarek, commercial and artistic painter

March 29, 1923 – Feb. 27, 2015

John Mielcarek, a Buffalo artist who had a successful career as a commercial and an artistic painter, died Feb. 27 after a brief illness under hospice care in Larkspur, Colo., where he had lived for the last 2½ years. He was 91.

Born in Buffalo to Polish immigrant parents, he loved to draw as a child. He attended South Park High School, took art classes in the University of Buffalo’s Millard Fillmore College and served in the Army during World War II.

Returning from service, he attended classes at the Art Institute of Buffalo on the GI Bill of Rights, then went to New York City with artist friends to attend the Art Students League, where he studied under Edwin Dickinson.

Mr. Mielcarek returned to the Art Institute of Buffalo, where he met Norma Ferri, who became his wife in 1950.

To support his family, he often worked two jobs. He was a house painter and an industrial painter. He eventually became a painter for the City of Buffalo’s Water Division. As their children grew up, Mr. Mielcarek and his wife traveled the United States and Canada, painting and sketching landscapes and portraits. Although described as a romantic realist, he resisted working in a single style and often used several media in a single artwork.

“I’d get bored if I had to follow one curriculum,” he told an interviewer. “The Art Students League was such a creative place that I could never channel myself in one direction.”

His landscapes and portraits were exhibited in 2012 as part of the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s “Life in the Arts” series. He also was the subject of a video documentary in the Buffalo Society of Artists Portrait Series.

His wife, a remedial reading and writing teacher and a school principal, died in 2011.

Surviving are three sons, Kevin, Peter and Russell; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. A Mass of Christian Burial was offered Monday in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Orchard Park.

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