John Durfey


I believe we are influenced by where we live. Winona, the Island City, is where bluffs line the Mississippi River on one side and two lakes on the other. Experiencing the four seasons of Minnesota has given me an appreciation of the many faces of nature, the hope of life returning in the spring, the easy and hot summer days with ample sunlight and pleasant bird songs, the smells and colors and coolness of autumn, and finally the shorter days of winter and life threatening temperatures.

My father was a professional photographer and a musician, artist, furniture maker, stamp collector, and coin collector. In the 1950’s and 60’s, my mother helped out by hand coloring the portraits and the pictures of wedding groups.

Dad bought out a frame shop and taught me how to cut mats, glass, and how to build the frames. He had a complete wood working shop and enjoyed teaching me how to work with wood. He also stretched canvases and sold paints and brushes to the college students. We showed our paintings at art fairs in the area and sometimes we were each awarded a ribbon.

After one year at Winona State University, I transferred to the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. I graduated with a BFA in painting which led to my teaching at the Minnesota Center of Arts and Education in Minnetonka, MN. During that time I also opened a picture frame shop, enrolled in extension classes at the U of MN and MCAD.

Having the need to escape the long, cold, dark days of winter, I find traveling to Mexico helps restore a positive mental balance and energies me. The colors, culture, landscape, and ocean are a source of inspiration for many of my works.

Having my own painting and decorating company, enabled me to paint murals for clients. This experience and my art training helped me to be chosen as the restoration artist for the Historic Paramount Theatre in Austin, MN. Over the span of 2 1/2 years I restored the theatre with the help of my wife, Lois, a union painter, who coordinated the work of the volunteers, and my daughter, Becky, who stenciled many designs. The theatre now shows movies, plays, concerts, and even hosts weddings.

Today, I own a custom picture framing and restoration business in our home. I have restored old paintings for private families as well as for the City of Winona, Winona State University, Merchants Bank, and the Winona County Historical Center.