WYCKOFF, N.J. -- What began with a chance glance while Mark Oberndorf of Wyckoff was stopped at a light in Rochelle Park has become a passion for capturing iconic buildings in Bergen and Passaic counties.
"I was sitting in my car when I stumbled on the Rochelle Park Barber Shop," Oberndorf said. "I knew I had to paint it.
"After that, I started searching out old buildings around Bergen County that looked like they may be going to the wrecking ball soon," he said. "I was especially drawn to the old neon diner signs.
"I have eaten at each and every one, I have had my hair cut at every barber shop," Oberndorf said. "I talk with the owners and patrons of each and every establishment to get a personal feel for the soul and essence of each place."
HOW MANY roadside icons can you identify? SEE VIDEO, above.
Oberndorf began painting when he was 10 and had his first solo show in 1992 in Provincetown, MA. He's been married for 23 years with two sons -- one is 16 and goes to Ramapo High School and the other is 18 and attends the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Oberndorf has several permanent installations and recent exhibits throughout the state.
That includes collections at the Lambert Castle Museum in Paterson and the Fritz Behnke Historical Museum in Paramus, as well as in galleries in Westwood, Wyckoff and London.
Oberndorf's work is included in a New Jersey diners exhibit, though June, at the Cornelius Low house at the Middlesex County Museum. Another show at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center runs through July.
Last month, he took first place in the oil/acrylic category at the 51st annual Art in the Park show at Van Saun Park in Paramus. The winning collection is on display this month at the Bergen County Administration Building in Hackensack.
Meanwhile, Oberndorf continues doing free custom home portraits for any private clients who buy his paintings.
Asked for a favorite from his roadside gallery, Oberndorf chose the Tick Tock Diner on Route 46 in Clifton, with the now-gone Callahan's hot dog stand on Palisade Avenue in Fort Lee a close second.
"There are a lot of locations left on my to-do list, but my private commissions have to come first," he said. "I'll find the time someday."
TO BUY an Oberndorf painting: (201) 694-1379 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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