Most recently, the history bubbled up in the form of nearly two dozen oil and watercolor paintings by former Johnson City resident Gary F. Paduch. Twenty paintings of various landmarks in the Boones Creek area were revealed to the public last week at the Boones Creek Museum & Opry location on Oakland Avenue.
"This is a collection of large watercolor paintings of exceptional quality depicting the landscapes and buildings of Boones Creek, Tennessee's first community,” BCHT Vice President Vicki Shell said. She learned about the collection of paintings from a friend who knows Paduch.
“It is seldom, if ever, that a collection of this size has been depicted of a single subject matter. This is a lifetime of work by a very gifted artist,” she said. “I was stunned by the quality. This is some of the finest art work to come out of East Tennessee. It’s a large collection of a single subject.”
The paintings are for sale, and half of the proceeds will be generously donated to the trust by the artist.
One of Paduch’s sons, Derrick Paduch, said painting was something his father started doing as a teenager. After the elder Paduch’s retirement, he began churning out more paintings.
“He would come up here for a maybe a week and take pictures of the area and he would go back to Florida and work,” Derrick Paduch said. He said his father’s artwork doesn’t only focus on Boones Creek. There are numerous paintings of downtown Johnson City, barns and older homes in the area, a ballet company in Florida, portraits and general landscape.
Gary Paduch, now 79, spent the last 19 years painting eight hours a day, his son said.
Paduch’s Johnson City paintings include works of The Down Home and the old General Mills plant when it was still operating. Many of the artist’s subjects are no longer standing, having rotted away or razed in the process of progress.
“All my father wants is for these to be a public treasure and to be displayed publicly,” Derrick Paduch said. “We also want to offer them for sale, but we won’t let them go cheap.”
The price tag on each painting is $5,000, but that is negotiable on some of the artwork, Derrick Paduch said. He said to do the framework alone costs more than $500, which the elder Paduch did for the Historical Trust at his own expense.
Derrick Paduch said when the trust finds a permanent location, he hopes the paintings will have a permanent home for public display.
“Some of them are going to be hard to part with because we like them,” Shell said with a chuckle. “But, we need our funding as well.”
For more information about the Boones Creek Historical Trust, visit https://www.boonescreekhistoricaltrust.org.