The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

What's Happening

August 11, 2006

Artist's touch adds character (s) to drive-in

By TOM LAVIS

TLAVIS@TRIBDEM.COM

While most artists who use acrylic paints prefer a canvas, Joe Voytko is finding concrete blocks to his liking.

The 1966 graduate of Richland High School has been commissioned to paint some of Hollywood’s greatest characters on the walls of the Silver Drive-In’s concession stand.

Voytko, a retired security guard from the Altoona Center in Blair County, is a freelance artist who lives in Hollidaysburg four months of the year and in Ocklawaha, Fla., the rest of the year.

His work is as epic as the characters he paints. The likeness of Indiana Jones — revolver in his right hand and his trusty bullwhip in his left — leaps from a jungle hideaway on a wall above the condiment counter.

Other imposing figures include Spider-Man, “Star Wars” nemesis Darth Vader and Batman.

“I work freehand and start with a charcoal sketch on the wall,” said Voytko, who graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh following high school. “My degree is in commercial art, but I went into the Army and was shipped to Fort Hood, Texas, where I became chief artist in Special Services.”

The Richland Township theater’s owners, Rick Rosko and his wife, Karen Statler, along with partners Cora Pastovic and Ted Roberts, are revamping the historic drive-in to make it a family-oriented venue.

“That’s one of the reasons I tracked down Joe,” Rosko said. “I remembered his talent from way back in high school and it just took a couple of phone calls to locate him in Florida.”

Voytko agreed to do the project and has produced an entire fleet of classic cars on the walls throughout the concession area.

“If you can take a picture of something, I can paint it,” Voytko said.

Car buffs will immediately identify such vintage rides as a 1958 Ford Edsel, ’57 Chevy, various Chryslers, a Packard and a Mercury, too name a few.

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