John Ellert has been practicing art in one or more ways for most of his life. There have been times he felt torn to do one thing at the expense of another: music instead of art, photography instead of piano, writing sometimes to the detriment of everything else. Yet, more often than not, he found ways to blend at least two into the same crucible.
The facts of his life are simple enough: born as the first son of two teachers who encouraged my to follow life’s mysterious paths without too much regard whether I was on a popular or lucrative path. His family moved a lot as his father followed his own non-traditional path through academia. Those places, including Michigan, California, Germany, and Colorado, each made a deposit in the bank of his imagination as he sought to make sense of everything around him, allowing curiosity and imagination to guide his play as a visual artist. He has lived in Wichita since 1978, and the Great Plains have had their own impact on his Weltanschauung, as has extensive travel to every state in the Union, South America, Canada, Europe, and Africa.
As a musician he was composing music by age seven; as a photographer he was doing far-out wet dark-room work in his teens. Someplace he discovered realism and he discovered the abstract hiding in the shadows, always present, but like a true introvert, not always willing to enter the lime-light. Still, he enjoys the abstract, especially the surreal, and part of his work involves combining the realism of photography with surrealism of certain early 20th Century painters. He has embraced digital technology whole-heartedly as that has finally given him the freedom to indulge his fantasies.
Ellert started his photographic journey at age 14, and although he followed different career paths for a large portion of his adult life, he again got serious about photography following a life-changing safari to Kenya. Subsequent study with Nancy Rotenberg and Freeman Patterson informed his artistic; further honed by study with Richard Cooke III, Dewitt Jones, and Lynette Shepherd.