More than a decade ago my father, James Bohaty, thought to create a montage of illustrated nursery rhymes for my son Matthew’s room. Dad was a graphic designer by trade and employed by R.R. Donnelly and Sons his entire adult life, as was his father before him. As a designer of books, annual reports, and trade show displays, my father did not consider himself a fine artist. Somehow, the man who was not a artist created the finely rendered depictions of Wee Willie Winkie, the Mouse and the Clock, and the Robin that you see here.
It took my father a number of months, perhaps close to a year, to finish his pen and ink and watercolor masterpiece. He presented the gift to my son with little ado. I gazed in amazement at the intricate details–autumn leaves, a tiny mouse, a street lamp–drawn with masterful precision. I encouraged my dad to do more of these watercolors. Surely, he could sell his drawings, or perhaps he could illustrate children’s books. But he did not seem to think there would be much of a market for his work. “I’m a designer,” he said.
My teenage son has since replaced the illustrated nursery rhymes that used to hang in his room with slick photos of urban street scenes. But someday, James Bohaty’s nursery rhyme montage will be hanging in another little child’s bedroom. He or she will know all about Grandpa Bohaty, who was an artist, in spite of what he said. Miss you, Dad.