During the day, John Helfrich is a local butcher, but after sunset, he trades in his knife for a paintbrush. “It’s when I’m most relaxed,” says Helfrich, who has been drawing as long as he can remember. “The first thing I recall sketching was a picture of Glenn Strange as Frankenstein’s monster when I was little, on the back of my dad’s Air Force picture, which landed me in hot water.”
In the following years, the now 45-year-old Evansville native tried his hand at every medium, finding a passion for oils. Painting everything from local architecture and landscapes to impressionism pieces and abstracts, he found realism, specifically portraits, to be his forte.
In 1992, Jay and Norma Hill, owners of Riverwind Gallery in Newburgh, Ind., gave Helfrich his first shot at an art exhibit.
“When we first met John and saw his work, we knew he had tremendous possibility and talent,” says Norma. Now, for the first time in 20 years, Helfrich will be returning to Riverwind Gallery to present his latest masterpiece, just in time for Halloween. His Classic Monsters of the Silver Screen made its debut on Sept. 1, and remains on display through the end of October. “We have always supported John and are very excited about this show,” says Norma.
Helfrich has a certain love for classic actors, especially those from horror films, who are some of his favorite subjects to paint. He credits one classic television series as his inspiration for his seasonal horror exhibit: “I was watching Rod Serling’s ‘Night Gallery’ when I was a kid. He would walk through a maze of paintings hanging in mid-air, stop at one, give a brief summary, show the title of the upcoming episode, and it would then dissolve into the episode. I thought that would be interesting to do. No one had ever done a horror art show here before; I owe it all to Rod Serling.”
Helfrich’s work is on display in homes throughout the country, and in recent years he has exhibited at Synchronicity Art Gallery, Willard Library (where his portrait of Edgar Allan Poe is presented), and The Ahh Spa, displaying horror and sci-fi paintings, as well as depictions of musicians and Oscar winners. “Last October, 200 people were at The Ahh Spa for my Night Gallery exhibit, and every painting sold,” says Helfrich. “I told Jay and Norma they may need to consider additional parking, considering the enormous feedback I am already receiving on Facebook.”
For more information on John Helfrich’s Classic Monsters of the Silver Screen exhibit, visit www.riverwindgalleryart.com.