Bradley University, Peoria, IL


After the war John indicated that he would live anywhere but Philadelphia. He was discharged at Rockville, Illinois, and after a couple months John moved to Peoria, Illinois. John says, “After Jack Mears and I decided that we weren’t going to get anyplace trying to drink Peoria dry, I began looking for something to do. He earned his G.E.D. and then enrolled at Bradley University for his B.F.A. He met a young biology major, a farmer’s daughter who graduated that year, 1946. They married and moved in together. Phyllis worked as John went to school.

John became an assistant to P.R. McIntosh, Head of the Department of Art at Bradley. He was at that time a fairly accomplished painter as noted by a local critic at the Peoria Journal Star who panned most of the artists showing at a local gallery.

Several canvases by John Lynch, a student from Philadelphia, completely overshadows the showing, both from the standpoint of composition, and originality. His portrait in gouache, “The Old Actor” reveals an artist of keen insight and sensitivity, which also is reflected in a war-inspired canvas, “Last Man In.” He uses color skillfully and displays a near professional handling of the medium.

When PR McIntosh took a position at the University of Florida, Gainsville, Lynch taught all of McIntosh’s composition classes at Bradley under Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. He then became assistant to Harry E. Wood, Dean of the College of Fine Arts.

John Virtu writes in his book about Leonard and Reva Brooks, the landmark article that changed John’s life. I will let Virtu explain:

The headline in the Life magazine article 5 January 1948 read: GI PARADISE Veterans go to Mexico to study art, live cheaply and have a good time

More than 6,000 American veterans immediately applied to study at the fine arts school. This publicity given to San Miguel would eventually result in the closure of the school, a communist witch hunt and blacklisting of some in the United States. Who could deny the appeal of San Miguel, given this description by Life magazine.

To GI students in U.S. colleges, crowding into Quonset huts and scrimping on their $65 a month government subsistence, the Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes in Mexico would be paradise. The Escuela is a fine-arts school, accredited under the GI Bill of Rights to which 50 U.S. veterans and their wives have come to study painting, ceramics, murals, sculpture and languages. They find it very pleasant in the quiet little town of San Miguel de Allende, up in the mountains north of Mexico City. The air is crisp, the flowers are bright, the sun is warm, apartments are $10 a month, servants are $8 a month, good rum and brandy 65 cents a quart, cigarettes are 10 cents a package.

The three page spread was mainly of photos. One showed Leonard Brooks playing his violin on a colonial terrace during a party. Another was of American students painting a nude model, who happened to be the wife of one of them as no Mexican woman would pose in the buff, but it was enough to draw the ire of local residents. Student Loretta Hardesty of Butte, Montana, was depicted painting in a cemetery, skulls and bones lying on the ground in a place where Mexicans revere in their Day of the Dead ceremonies.

When John Lynch was one of the 6000 who applied, and out of that one of the 100 who was accepted for admission.  He and Phyllis left for San Miguel Allende on the day that John graduated from Bradley, June 13, 1949.

Student and teacher



Philadelphia Studio

World War II

European Theater

San Miguel Allende Mexico City

Later Marin Co

Larkspur, CA

ARTIST’s Teachers

  1. 1.PR McIntosh

  2. 2.Harry Wood

  3. 3.Sibyl Maholy-Nagy

  4. 4.Jarold Talbot

ARTIST’s Friends

1. George Bireline

2. Roy Gusso

  1. 3.Sam Fischer

  2. 4.George Kachergis

4. Sarah Davis