Lewis Van Dercar - "Witch Retreat"

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Lewis Van Dercar

"Witch Retreat" 1911-1988

  • Dated 1972
  • Oil on canvas
  • Site: 23 " x 29 " 
  • Framed
  • Condition: Excellent

Born in Detroit, Mr. VanDercar entered the Navy during the Depression to help support his family.

In the late 1930s, he became an animator, drawing Popeye cartoons from a Miami studio. He entered the Merchant Marines in World War II and later worked as an aircraft engineer. He returned to Miami, where he worked construction jobs and ran a plumbing shop.

Then he learned he could make a living from his hobby, painting and sculpting. He decorated an exterior wall of his house with faces of every age and culture, Greek gods, sea monsters, heroines, gargoyles, Moses, faces from Egypt and India and China, and many other places.

He also created mountains for resorts and amusement parks, and built a gorilla’s lair for Monkey Jungle in South Dade’s Redland. He made a giant dragon, 100 feet long and 30 feet high for a Merritt Island Park.

In 1984, he returned to Miami for a short while to repaint a reconstructed limestone bridge at Arch Creek Park. He painted the concrete and iron used to rebuild the bridge so it would look like limestone, too. He was still painting days before his death.

“He spent 30 years and died doing what he liked,” his son said. “Not many people are able to do that.”
Said Mr. VanDercar once: “Many people think what I do is ridiculous, but not intelligent people. Most people are fearful and they don’t enjoy life because they’re afraid to take a change and do what they want. So intelligent people admire your courage.”