The DiegoVoci™ Project (DVP™) is pleased to bring you yet another fantastic recollection by Diego Collectors John and Helen Barnhart who got to know DiegoVoci™ quite well.
“MOTHER AND CHILD” and #WEDDINGS
In March of 1966, when Lt. John Barnhart got off the plane in Wiesbaden, Germany to take on his assignment in Bitburg for the Air Force, it was pouring drown rain. John says, “I thought I was at the end of the world.” That was soon to change. After he was checked in to the Bachelor Officers Quarters, John spotted another Bachelor Officers Quarters with women and asked a fellow officer, “What are all these females doing at an AFB?” He was told most were teachers and fellow officers. John’s eyes lit up. He saw one of the young ladies not long after – her name was Helen Jamrog, a teacher. About 6 months later the couple married:
Now, almost 50 years later they are still happily married and are happily enjoying the oil paintings John and Helen commissioned directly from DiegoVoci™ himself.
In November 1967, on a Sunday at an art exhibit at the Bitburg Officers Club hosted by Diego, John went up and introduced Helen and himself. Diego asked, “Would you like something?” The couple put their heads together and replied “Yes, we want a painting of a Mother and Child.” Diego grabbed a pencil and quickly drew a sketch study using Helen’s face and long hair and asked “Like this?” Helen also wanted a large horizontal “Still Life” for which she was very specific, wanting “pears, vases, and our small coffee grinder” they had purchased in Europe. Diego said, “I can do something for you” and sketched a study for the still life right there. All in agreement Diego insisted that the commission would not be “through the club it is only between us.”
In February of 1968 Diego sent them a note to come and visit to see the progress on their 2 oil paintings. It was not common for Diego to have the client’s input, but due to the Barnhart’s specific requests, he made an exception. A friendship ensued. It was in the VOCI Wiesbaden home that John and Helen first met Helga. Diego and Helga had just married in January of ’68 (See: http://www.artifactcollectors.com/diego-history-4330818/Page2.html#43810.)
Diego, seeing Helen’s small VW they had arrived in was worried that the paintings would not fit. But, on a future visit in March of 1968 to pick up their finished Diego paintings Barnhart’s arrived in a John’s new dark blue Mercedes 250 SE. Size would not be an issue for the transport of their Diegos. Wine and cheese were a tradition when guests visited the Voci home. A comfortable atmosphere for all. Diego soon revealed the paintings in progress to John and Helen.
When Helen noticed that the “Still life” “did not have the pears where she wanted them and. . . WHOA.
Dear Reader, the “Still Life” story is told in Part II following this Part I
One thing John had noticed during their many visits was how much Diego smoked and asked him, “Do you worry about how the smoke effects the condition of the art?” Diego replied “No. Not certain if I like art or smoking better.” John purchased five cartons of cigarettes and gave them to Diego as a gift. Little could they know Diego’s life would be cut short from cigarettes. See DiegoVoci™ BIOGRAPHY: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Diego_Voci
And, John’s new Mercedes intrigued Diego. Diego liked grandeur and asked John to take him for a ride. John agreed but said, “Please, no smoking in my new car”. Diego simply said, “Yes.” After Diego’s ride in the classy new Mercedes, John and Helen drove back to their home in Ehrang, Germany and have proudly displayed their DIEGO oil paintings since.
John retired from the AF as a Colonel and Abbott Labs as Senior Manager, and Helen from her teaching. Their DiegoVoci™ paintings had been with them for nearly 50 years in Ohio, Maryland, California and Florida. John says, “All along we have loved them.” The Barnharts became avid collectors of art to include Norman Rockwell, Andrew Wyeth, Alan Gough and many antiques they bought in Belgium.
NOW THEY ARE DOWNSIZING – SEE PART II
See available DiegoVoci™ art to acquire at www.diegovociproject.com