Retired Clinical Pharmacist, Finds His Montana Muse

Written by on March 29, 2013 in Art - No comments

MontanaHomeWEBDrew Bodner, RPh is a retired clinical pharmacist with a passion for art. He retired in 2003 after 39 years of continual employment at Shawnee Mission Medical Center in Johnson County, Kansas. He started the clinical program there for the Medical Surgical Unit. Bodner also worked in ICU and was the wound care pharmacist for SMMC.

He still remains active, maintaining his Missouri and Kansas pharmacy licenses and continuing his APhA, MSHP, and KPha memberships, including helping to plan KPhA conferences.

His grandparents homesteaded in Montana in 1892 from what is now the Slovak Republic and he and his wife, Joanne, own a cattle ranch, the N Lazy J, there on a side hill of the Highwood Mountains where they go each summer. With only 1200 people in the entire county and sixty miles between his home and the closest full line grocery store, life can be challenging. From his home he can see Glacier National Park 150 miles away because there is nothing but flat prairie between them.

The beautiful Montana landscape is where he gets much of his inspiration and he has been a featured artist in Montana for the last 5 years. Even his company name,, reflects his love of the area.  Bodner states, “My art is all about nature, even down to the wood grains I like to paint. And the Montana sunsets are great.”

His art roots go clear back to his grandparents and their homestead. They were frequently visited by C.M. Russell (Charlie Russell), a famous Montana artist of the Old American West, when he was passing through on horseback. Bodner’s father painted many art pieces throughout his life imitating Charlie Russell’s style and subject matter and was quite an accomplished artist himself. Bodner believes that is why he became an artist and he still has over thirty of his father’s paintings.

Bodner started painting while wintering in Foley, Alabama at Paulette’s Palette and has painted in Florida, Alabama, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. When he’s in Montana he paints at the Mid-Montana State Art Society and at Studio 706; when he’s in Kansas he’s a member of the Seniors’ Art Council. His recent works are in acrylic and watercolor, but he would love to get back into oils in the near future. His work is displayed at Prairie Collection in Stanford, Montana; Made in Montana in Great Falls, Montana; and a gallery in Raton, New Mexico. And his photograph entitled “Mama Owl” was recently juried into the Arti Gras show in Leawood, Kansas. And he also teaches art classes at a Kansas City inner-city grade school and tutors math.

Wagon1WEB“There’s no bad art. All art is good art. I find and encourage the good points in everyone’s art,” he shares.

Each of his paintings has a story. They bring back fond memories from the artist’s personal life or from the people who have shared their stories with him. A friend, a former grade school teacher in Hughesville who became a Sister of Charity in Leavenworth, told him of a tender remembrance of standing in front of her cabin in Ashland, Montana in 1925 with her mother and siblings waiting for their father to return from the coal mine. Bodner did the painting, “Waiting for My Coal Miner Husband”, from her description of her mother with her three children all under the age of 4; daughter on one side, young boy on other, small baby in her arms. The young boy in the image is of Drew, himself, at age four.

He shares, “Can you imagine the mother’s stress with those small children, at dusk, waiting for her husband to return from the coal mine. In those days, coal was mined for their own use. My friend is the young girl on the right side. I took a painting of myself with the sheep in Montana as a little boy for the picture of the little boy on the other side. Her parents went on to have many more children.”

“ I paint these pictures and envision myself there. I can transport myself to another world and actually feel I’m there in what I am painting. That’s the fun of it and that’s what relieves stress. It’s just like magic.”

Besides his original paintings for sale, Bodner currently has a line of over 100 stationery cards, each card displaying an original piece of his art.

by Thomas Hibbard
Creative Director, Med Monthly

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