By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – “I was 72 when I started, and I love what I’m doing now,” said Shrewsbury native and artist Joel Engelhardt, who is now 75.
He recently completed a major work called, “The 1921 Diner,” based on the interior of the Worcester Lunch Car on Route 140 in Boylston. The pastel features three men and a woman working and meeting in the diner. Engelhardt has made signed fine art prints that he sells from his studio, and has entered the painting in the American Artists Professional League 88th Grand National Show to be held in New York City in November.
“All my life I’ve been an artist,” emphasized Engelhardt. But not in fine arts. He started off as a sheet metal worker.
“The sheet metal work was a craft I loved because it let me create things with my eye and mind,” he said.
In the late 1970s he took a break in his career to open the Storm’s Eye Studio in Gloucester, making stained glass objects. He had taught himself the skill in the early ‘60s, making flat panels for windows, original stained glass lamp shades and reproductions of famous Tiffany lamps. Through his work he met other artists, including Claudia Post, a pastel artist, who at the time was studying with noted pastel artist Daniel Greene. Both had three sons and became good friends. They lost touch for 35 years when he came back to central Massachusetts for another sheet metal job.
Engelhardt made several career changes, but always remained interested in art and used those talents in his various jobs. One day in 2012, he went online and Googled his North Shore friend’s name.
“When I found her website, I contacted her by email and congratulated her on the great work she was doing. I got an email back, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since,” he explained. “I learned that she runs a program for gifted young adults in Chester, Conn., and told her I’d like her to teach my talented granddaughter Sarah. I arranged a meeting so Claudia could see her work, and I went with her. Sarah chose not attend the classes, but I became one of Claudia’s students and have been working in pastels ever since.
“This is my third year of doing pastels and Claudia is my mentor,” he continued. “She has encouraged me to pursue my art work. I study with her twice a month, which gives me a chance to meet other artists and expand my whole world in a new direction.”
Engelhardt has become a serious artist doing portraits, still lifes, and plein air landscapes. His work is realistic rather than impressionistic.
Said Engelhardt, “I’m a stickler for detail.”
He produces commissioned works as well as his own originals and has entered other pieces in art shows, winning his first award for a monochromatic work at the Firehouse Gallery in Milford, Conn. He has joined several art associations including the Northborough Art Guild and the Connecticut Pastel Society.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” he noted. “I’ve met so many people; artists, collectors, gallery owners and art aficionados. I’m having fun!”
His advice to other seniors: “Go for it! Whatever you dream, do it! If you can visualize it, you can achieve it.”
The artist can be contacted by email at [email protected].