The Artists

Johnny Bee Badanjek

Johnny Bee Badanjek acrylics, oils, oil sticks,
pastels, color pencils

"What is the secret?
I don't know. I have to paint it.
Absence Is everything!
What to leave in or what to take out.
If I want to know what happens, if I want to find out the secret,
I have to paint It.
In many ways this is painting about silence and the expressive potential of the interior and the exterior worlds."

--Johnny Bee Badanjek

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A Small Utopia The Boy With Moon Rock Eyes Mary Cobra The Artist And His Mother Pale Venus Transcendental

Johnny Bee Badanjek Gallery
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Mr. Climax - Jim McCarty A Monumental Work Of Disproportion (The Motor City) Black Dream The Boy Looked At Johnny John Sinclair-Ten For Two-(Puppets Of Dust) Mexican Richard
Monument To The Dead Soul Shouter (Mitch Ryder) Wheatfields With Cypress Trees Einstein & His Avengers Ocean Poem Wheatfield With Crows Self Portrait
Shooting Star Blue Whale Hipsters With Black Moon Flesh Of My Flesh The Devil's Candy Dream Of Dark Sky The Bishop's Broken Heart Storm Over Rouen

"My mother along with her brother and both their parents came over to America from Yugoslavia. They where born in Croatia. My artistic abilities came down the bloodline from my grandmother, who would always be building something with her hands. She would build churches out of cardboard and wood, and when you opened the doors there would be a little alter with tiny candlesticks and pews, crucifix's, the station's of the cross. It would look like a real church.

She would have been known today as a self-taught, art brut, or outsider artist. Declared insane—and had a full blown story about her in Raw Vision Magazine.

When she babysat my younger brother Steve and I, she would tell us stories about the old country when she was a little girl living in Yugoslavia. She found a star, she said that fell out of the sky one night and into her backyard. When she found it, she buried it on the roof of her house so no one could steal it. She said the colors where so beautiful, the most beautiful thing she'd had every seen in her life. When she watched my brother and I we would always draw at her house from a box of colored pencils that had all the colors of that fallen star in it.

In grade school I started to play the drums and my drawing and art career was slowly pushed aside for a career in music. And success came at an early age when we where all just teenagers. I headed for New York City and recorded with Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels, as well as many other great recording artists (see bio below).

About ten years ago I threw myself back into my first love—art! It made me so happy, and little did I know what lied ahead.

I dove In head first and tryed to learn all that I could. I never went to art school. I'm self-taught and learned by looking and reading books about other painters and their philosophies. And also by painting and drawing as much as I could. What would it take for people to want the inner-life more than the outer-life? Courage to strike out for something meaningful?

But the only way you can really do that is to risk poverty, to risk not being popular. Here's part of a poem I recall that inspires me and goes something like:
I'm sorry I cannot say 'I love you' when you say you love me.
The words, like moist fingers, appear before me full of promises,
but than run away to a little black room that is always dark.
So here we are in the dark-
Every work of art begins from nothing.

And one of my favorite poems by Anna Akhmatova says alot about art:
I bear equally with you,
the bleak permanent separation,
why are you crying? rather give me your hand,
promise to come again In a dream.
You and I are a mountain of grief.
You and I will never meet on this Earth.
If only you could send me at midnight a greeting through the stars.

Being self-taught this is how I learn... from all those who came before.

Painting is a form of prayer."

--Johnny Bee Badanjek


A Young Johnny Bee At 16, John "Johnny Bee" Badanjek (pronounced: buh-DAN-jek) was the drummer for the Motor City's premier rock and roll band, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. There he hammered out one of the three greatest drum breaks in the history of rock, according to Rolling Stone Magazine—on Devil With A Blue Dress.

After the group disbanded in 1967, "Bee" toured and recorded with Edgar Winter, Alice Cooper, Dr. John, Bob Seger, Ronnie Montrose, Nils Lofgren and others, providing the backbeat for some of rock's legendary tracks.

But Johnny Bee's preeminent position in the nation's hard rock hall-of-fame was not won with sticks alone—in 1972, he co-founded The Rockets as a showcase for his songwriting skills. He served in a dual role as drummer/lead vocalist until 1976—when they opted for a bluesier voice.

Bee's songs launched the group into national prominence, and proved his ability to score consistently on the nation's pop music charts (Can't Sleep, Turn Up the Radio, Takin' It Back).

The Rockets

In 1992, Bee toured Europe with Nils Lofgren and drummed on Nil's Rykodisc release, The Crooked Line. Bee recently toured and recorded with The Romantics, and is spending much of his time working with his new band, Broken Toys writing and demoing new material. August of 2010, Badanjek pulled The Rockets together to play with The J. Geils Band at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI. Johnny Bee also routinely plays with The Howling Diablos.

Bee's authentic pursuit of artistic freedom brought him to drawing and painting and a deep appreciation for this encompassing art form. With all of his life's experiences, Badanjek transitioned naturally into a free painter with endless ideas and exuberance for life. Johnny Bee found that he had the same deep passion for painting as he did for music. In fact Bee found the two inspire each other.

"John Badanjek is a very talented, serious artist, and I was honored when he requested a few words of art speak.

While John's drive and creative force has been widely acknowledged in the music business, few people have been aware of his life long fascination and interest in the visual arts.

I've looked at, studied, and made art for more than 40 years. Unfortunately, all that visual experience has left me super critical and greatly underwhelmed by most of the stuff being shown in contemporary galleries. But all that aside, I have to tell you, the first Johnny Bee painting I saw really rocked my socks.

John's a very bright boy who has given serious study to most of the major artists and important paintings of the 20th century. He is remarkably self-taught, and his current work often takes many directions in layered homage to Kandinsky, Gorky, Picasso, or DeKooning, to name just a few...

...But on top of this diverse encyclopedia of influence John adds his own personal spin, and he creates unique new pictures that often remind me of something I ain't never seen before."

--Roy Castleberry MFA Wayne State University 1975

The Badanjek Point