While Grandpa napped, David Chelesnik drew his picture

by Pam Roberts

This is nothing to snore about and yet that’s when it all began… back when Dave’s grandpa was napping while babysitting … snoring away on the couch, grandson David who was eight years old, got out his crayons and drew a picture of grandpa taking a snooze. It actually turned out halfway decent and Dave Chelesnik’s painting hobby began. <BR><BR>When he was 13 or 14, someone from the mine where his father John worked, gave him a set of oil paints and David Chelesnik Sr. has been painting ever since. Dave was going to go to college (UMD) to become an art instructor in the ’60s but back then the art department was stressing mainly modern art and wasn’t much interested in wildlife. David was so frustrated he made art his minor and got a business degree instead. He then went to work at Erie Mining Company’s accounting department. <BR><BR>Dave spends a lot of time outdoors and most of his paintings are of what he sees out there. His paintings include all sorts of woodland wildlife, deer, wolves, partridge, fish, birds, waterfalls and so forth. David’s son Steve says his dad is now in a new renaisance, painting flowers, bugs, and fruit. <BR><BR>Dave says he doesn’t have a style, he is just doing what comes naturally. Dave really ‘lives’ when he is in the woods. He loves the woods. <BR><BR>Dave was born in Ely, grew up in Ely, and is still in Ely. He and his wife Laura were blessed with two wonderful sons who have made them very proud. Their eldest son Steve is associate general counsel for Emerson Electric’s process management group of companies in Eden Prarie. Steve is married to Tamara who is also a lawyer. <BR><BR>David and Laura’s youngest son David passed away three weeks before his 20th birthday on Labor Day of 1984 of cancer. The missing of him is constantly present. <BR><BR>Steve and Tamara’s daughter Alexandra has brought David and Laura a lot of joy these last 11 years. She enjoys art herself, in more of a modern abstract style and has one work hanging on a door in the basement. “She’s a terrific granddaughter, cute little girl, looks just like her grandfather.” (You can guess who said that…) <BR><BR>Every time you turn around the corner in Dave and Laura’s house there’s another wall full of paintings. Laura says this is nice for her because she doesn’t have to go to home decorating parties. She has her own decorator. She tells Dave she needs something that matches the bedspread and he paints it. <BR><BR>Laura’s brother-in-law Bruce Norby (‘Nobby’ who’s married to Laura’s sister Carol) makes all the frames and does a beautiful job. <BR><BR> David, now 65, has a house full of 80 or 90 paintings making the house his own private art gallery. Each painting is an experience for him and it is hard to part with them. He is much in need of more wall space or else he will have to start selling his art work. His granddaughter Alexandra will inherit a lot of paintings. Dave says she is the heir to the “Chelesnik fortune.” There should be at least 3-400 more paintings by then<BR><BR>David hasn’t been painting lately, too much fishing going on and he is about to take a camping trip, for more fishing. Later this summer he and his Laura will be going ricing. But this is his latest painting of blueberries. (This was the painting he was working on last spring when he was pictured in the ‘O’clock Hour.’) He has added some white and red blueberries and some special little surprises. He probably won’t paint again till there is lag time after the ricing and fishing seasons are over. <BR><BR>Then he’ll be back to painting for recreation, relaxation and just to escape. That’s his way of being in the woods when he’s not in the woods. He says, “When I get old, which will be in about another 30 or 40 years, then I will do nothing but painting.” <BR><BR>These black and white drawings were a special request by David and Laura’s son Davey “Chas” who fought the battle of cancer. Davey wanted his dad to design some note cards to write thank you’s to people while he was ill. Chas was diagnosed with cancer his freshman year of high school, and was able to live a dream come true as he received a baseball scholarship as pitcher for the University of Minnesota and played for the Gophers. He pitched for one year before he died. David Sr. drew these ink drawings at the Mayo Clinic while waiting for son David during his stay there, it helped pass the time.