whose first name is actually Miecieslaw, was first inspired to paint in 1967, when he saw an art exhibition, sponsored by the New York City Transit Authority, inBrooklyn. Unimpressed by the abstract paintings he saw, he thought he “could do better.” A religious man, he asked for guidance from God and the angels. Theimpulse to paint led him to buy brushes, oil paint, linseed oil, charcoal, and canvas, and he started to paint in his free time. Employed by the transit author ity, Bogun hadhis work shown in one of the authority’s exhibitions in the early 1970s, and was subsequently discovered by collector Herbert W.Hemphill Jr. (1929–1998). Hemphillasked to borrow two of Bogun’s paintings,
Sail On, Old Ironsides
(1972), for an exhibition of twentieth-century folk artists at the Museum of American Folk Art in New York.Bogun painted more than a dozen landscapes and portraits, using photographs, prints, and his imagination. He worked only when the spirit moved him, and stopped painting, in 1986, because his “walls were full.” In a signed self-portrait from 1972, he depicted himself in a frontal pose, close to the picture plane. The dark-haired,dark-eyed figure with a mustache wears a black clerical robe, softened with a colorful tie and a wide embroidered satin stole. Seated against an altar adorned with awhite lace cloth, candles, and flowers, his kindly expression and clasped hands inspire confidence. Bogun was a spiritualist, and in 1951 was ordained a minister at theTemple of Light Church in New York City. He reads the Bible and meditates every night, and wants his paintings to be looked at as spiritual art.
American Folk Art Museum; Herbert W. Hemphill Jr.; Painting, Landscape; Religious Folk Art; Visionary Art
Hemphill, Herbert W.Jr., and Julia Weissman.
Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists.
New York, 1974