The way Fr. John Van Wiel, CSV, describes it, he took up painting more than 20 years ago, while on a silent retreat. But what started out as a way to express images of God’s creation, has turned into something of a second career after his 40 years in education.
“I look for something that interests me,” he says of his diverse subject matter.
Watercolor is his medium and while he never sought to sell his paintings, he regularly donated them to auctions, typically to benefit Saint Viator High School.
On Sunday, however, Fr. Van Wiel found himself center stage as members of the Viatorian Community featured his watercolors in a solo exhibition at the Province Center.
The display drew more than 40 people to come and see his work. They included Viatorian associates, brothers and priests in the Arlington Heights and Chicago region, as well as pre-associates, staff members and former colleagues from Saint Viator High School.
Guests looked closely at the paintings, separated into different groupings, including a cluster of barns, lighthouses, sailboats, winter and summer scenes, sunrises and sunsets, and his most recent subject: birds.
“What I admire most about his paintings is that he is self-taught,” said Fr. Daniel Hall, CSV, Provincial.
As a result of the show, one of Fr. Van Wiel’s painting was donated to the upcoming fundraiser for Viator House of Hospitality, while another one was sold.
Associate Joan Sweeney, former archivist for the community, worked with Fr. Van Wiel to select paintings for the exhibit, frame them and install the collection.
Near the end of the reception, she thanked guests for coming and in turning to the artist, she said simply: “Thank you for sharing your work with us — and for bringing the community together.”