Santa Rosa Artist Pays Tribute to Essential Workers

EMTs, delivery drivers, Costco checkout workers, and other essential workers are depicted in a series of oil paintings by John Deckert.

We’ve all seen paintings of heroes — generals on horseback, soldiers in battle raising the flag — but how often have you seen an ambulance driver or a letter carrier exalted through portraiture? Not often.

John Deckert decided to do something about that.

Deckert, 72, who lives in Santa Rosa’s Rincon Valley, is a professional artist as well as a longtime Marine reservist with 35 paintings in the permanent collection of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Deckert has been focused on a series of oil portraits that celebrate those whose work must continue despite Covid-19 — EMTs in an ambulance, a tree-trimming crew, his UPS delivery driver. More recently, he’s been working on portraits created from selfie photographs given to him by a dozen emergency-room nurses at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. “I’m a painter, so my way of saying thanks is to do a painting,” Deckert explains.

One of Deckert’s subjects is his former mail carrier, Ronald Crawley. “He photographed me at his mailbox and told me he was doing paintings of people still doing their jobs during the coronavirus. People think we’re heroes, or something special, but I was just grateful to still be working,” says Crawley, who recently retired. “I think his project is pretty cool, something that will be remembered for a long time to come.”