John “Jay” Boeldt was an accomplished painter who never let a paintbrush touch his canvas.
A professional artist, Boeldt would drip paint — sometimes more than 100 different shades for one piece – in a paint-by-numbers fashion onto computer-manipulated images of ordinary things, such as martini glasses.
It was pop art “that took everyday objects and raised them to iconic proportions,” said his husband, Wayne Franklin. Boeldt’s work includes a painting of Amy Winehouse, called “Mona Lisa Post-Rehab,” which currently hangs in MTV’s studios.
His last painting, though, was a portrait of his 11-year-old son, Daniel.
Boeldt, who once owned an art gallery in Forest Park, died of liver cancer on Sept. 30 at his Oak Park home with his husband and son by his side. He was 48.
Described as a remarkably creative man with the perfect eye for color, the Indianapolis native ran Plan B Gallery on Madison Street from 2004 to 2006, often featuring local artists’ work. He loved designing and constructing spaces to display the fine art that was selected for shows, even if it meant building new walls or repainting the showroom.
“He really made it an event for each show, which was wonderful for the gallery,” Franklin said. “He had an eye for being able to display artwork.”
The gallery was of such high quality that it could have opened anywhere, from Manhattan to downtown Chicago, said Jodi Gianakopoulos, owner of The Old School Records, which was across the street from Plan B.
“We were lucky to have it in Forest Park,” she said. “Plus he was such a nice man, the type of guy who would talk to anybody. …He was an art guy, an esoteric guy, but also very down to earth.”
As a very active member of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and the Madison Street Merchants Association, the village greatly benefited from all the creative ideas that Boeldt generated to help develop the area, Gianakopoulos said. The two partnered for a project, as one example, and created a tourism brochure for Forest Park, which was named the best in the state by the Illinois Tourism Bureau.
“In whatever he did, his creativity would come through,” Franklin said. “His creativity was an incredible gift.”
Also an avid gardener, dedicated father and fantastic cook who could make meals from odds and ends in the pantry, Boeldt was diagnosed with liver cancer on New Year’s Eve nine months ago. Realizing they “didn’t have much time,” Boeldt and Franklin, who had been together for 15 years, wed on April 26 in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal. As he battled cancer, Boeldt continued to paint and draw for as long as he could.
“He had one goal and that was to live for Daniel’s birthday,” Franklin said. And on Sept. 11, Boeldt celebrated his son’s golden birthday.
Along with his husband and son, he is survived by his sister, Cindy Farber; brother, David Boeldt; nieces, Courtney and Kristen; many step brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles.
Some of Boeldt’s artwork will be displayed for a celebration of his life at the Stephen Daiter Gallery, 230 W. Superior Street, 4th floor on Sunday, Oct. 10 from 2 to 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, his family said donations may be made to the Daniel B. Franklin Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 942, Oak Park, Ill.