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Willows painter known for works of old barns
You can contact Vic Kronberg at 6244 Road 53, Willows, CA 95988. Or he may be contacted through the Colusa County Arts Council, 458-2222.
Riding through the hills and valleys of the Western states, Vic Kronberg captured roles of film negatives of old barns and notched fences, which he later reproduced in his scenic watercolor paintings.
Kronberg is the featured artist this month at the Colusa County Arts Council, where his paintings are displayed. The 90-year-old painter lives in Willows and has strong ties to Colusa County.
"I used to ride along with the Colusa Country Sheriff's Posse years ago and I got to know many people over in Colusa because of that. I ran around with Manuel Barrett (Jr.) and Jack Zoller and those old boys quite a bit. We're the oldtimers. They were a real good group," said Kronberg.
"His best pictures are of old houses, barns, fences with notches or old machinery. He did a pretty good job of those. We must have made about eight or nine trips up to Oregon. We'd go for three or four days. He would take pictures of old barns or ranches in Oregon and Northern California," said Barrett of Princeton, who has known Kronberg since the early 1960s.
Kronberg is so well known for painting old barns from photographs that his friends have brought back photographs from their own travels.
"I ended up with lots and lots of photos," he said.
He used barns as his subject the most because they were a part of American history that was not preserved. Most of the barns he has painted over the years are no longer standing.
"It's sad to see them go," said Kronberg.
Kronberg's paintings have evolved, and he has shifted focus ever the years.
"He does some different things now. He did one of ballet dancers, it wasn't really his category, but he still did it. My wife's got it up in her room," said Barrett.
Kronberg has been painting for well over 60 years.
"I graduated from art school in 1949 and I came to Willows and taught at Willows for 30 years and at Butte College art classes off and on," said Kronberg.
"Early in my career, I fished and hunted and abalone dived too much, so I didn't do too much painting. I retired 27 or 28 years ago, so now I paint more. I learn something new every day. Old dogs can be educated," said Kronberg.
"All I do is watercolor. What I like about it is the drawing takes all the time. Once I transfer the drawing over to the watercolor paper, I slip-slop the paint on and that's the fun part," he said.
Kronberg's watercolors have been shown all over the county, at art exhibits and local businesses. Last year he showed art at the May Surprise.
"I got the people's choice award. That's kind of nice, when people like your work."
"Colusa has been very good to me. I've had paintings in the hospital, in the medical building and in all the shows," he said.
"Vic is an accomplished artist, obviously. He has become somewhat of an institution. Vic single handedly started an art show dinner to support local college kids. That's the kind of guy he is. He is well known in the community and respected by everyone," said Fred Welcome, president of the Colusa County Arts Council.
For the last 21 years, Kronberg has hosted an annual art show, raffle, and buffet at the his studio home, along with his wife, June, as a fundraiser for the Willows Lions Club. It helps raise money for scholarships for local students. Kronberg said this the group sold almost $4,000 of tickets for scholarships for students of Maxwell, Willows and Elk Creek. But 2012 was the last year of the event.
"This was the last year. It takes a lot of time. When three of you do most of the work it gets kind of old. At 90 you start to shy away from things," Kronberg said.
Kronberg is not shying away from painting.
He has paintings available for sale at his home studio, and is available for consignment.
"I do a lot of paintings that people request, like their own family farm. It's fun because you are challenged to do something different," he said.
"Even at 90 he still does a good job of painting. He is a better painter now than he was then," said Barrett.
"I just enjoy it," Kronberg added. "I wake up in the morning and I have an idea of painting something or working on something and it fires you up. Its therapy in a way..."
"Its like the Waylon Jennings song: I may be crazy, but it keeps me from going insane."