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Peter Ompir & Warner Wrede
The Folk Art of Peter Ompir

By Charlotte Owens

ompir-a.jpgPeter Ompir translates as "Peter the Great" in French, and that he surely was.

Dubbed the "Dean of Décor Painting" by an Oregon newspaper in the 1970's, Ompir is esteemed by antique dealers and fellow artists alike as the father of American decorative painting. He brought décor painting to a level of quality previously unknown in America, a level similar to that of time-honored European folk painting.

Ompir's training in fine art, his remarkable talent, and his love of unusual antique pieces enabled him to create beautifully rendered decorative objects that seem to glow with the patina of the years but are, in reality, newly painted. He attained authentic coloration by mixing his own paints, and by his secret, labor-intensive antiquing pompir1-a.jpgrocess.

 

After growing up in Pennsylvania, Peter moved to the "big city" (New York), and began painting in the Depression era of the 1930's. He had studied fine art at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the National and American Art Academies. But he soon found that the depression-affected populace had no funds for portraits, so he began painting on "useful" objects, like tin pitchers, maple tables, graniteware ladles, and other useful household objects.