Bristol-area scenes on display in Jack Wendel exhibit

BRISTOL — Jack Wendel, a long time Bristol resident, painted many local scenes and homes in and around Bristol. His paintings are hanging in the homes of many individuals in the area.
The Bristol Friends of the Arts and The Bristol Historical Society are sponsoring a wonderful show and retrospective of his work at the WalkOver Gallery that will open with a reception this Friday. This is the first time a significant body of his work will be seen together.
Sylvia Coffin has been working since January contacting individuals and gathering together from many sources the watercolors, oils and sketches Wendel created  before his death in 1997. There are 48 works in the exhibition.
Born Dec. 4, 1923, in the Rocky Dale neighborhood of Bristol, Wendel went to Bristol schools and graduated from Bristol High School in 1941. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and then embarked on his career as an artist, attending art school in Boston for two years. He and his wife, Madeline, lived in California for awhile, at which time he learned the art of silk screening. Returning to Bristol, he was employed by Don Wilson at the Bristol Press and Vermont Silk Screen Company on Maple Street.
He worked for other printing firms in Burlington, and then struck out on his own as a free-lance artist for more than 20 years. Even while otherwise employed, Wendel never stopped painting for pleasure and to share his insight of the Vermont countryside with friends and relations.
Coffin explained that after Madeline Wendel died last November, she and Jack’s daughters, Lynn Bull and Karen Bushey, started cleaning out Jack’s  studio and unearthed a trove of their father’s artwork.
“They found so many paintings that they didn’t know what to do with them all,” Coffin said.
“Some of those paintings will be in the show … they will be a surprise to people because they may not have seen them before. They were stored away.”
Many of the works in the WalkOver show will be recognizable to people who live in the area. Coffin said Wendel had received commissions to paint many Addison County homes. Plus he painted a lot of landscapes, including a well-known depiction of Mount Abraham.
Others won’t be so well-known. Coffin said that while Wendel was serving in the Navy he painted a scene from Guadalcanal in the South Pacific in 1944. That painting will be in the exhibition.
Each painting is labeled and many have little write-ups from their owners giving their backstory.
“There are stories behind these paintings,” Coffin said. “The flavor of (this show) is a real community flavor.”
This is a show to be shared with the community, and none of the art is for sale. The opening reception is on Friday, Aug. 27, from 5-8 p.m. The exhibition will from through Sept. 13. The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
John McCright is at [email protected].

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