With his family, Ozols arrived in the United States in 1949, settling in Trenton, New Jersey. Ozlos received a BFA from the University of Pennsylvania, attended the historic Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Studio Program, training under Walter Stuemfig. He then received his MFA from Temple University. In the late 1960’s, Ozols came to New Orleans to design an exhibition space at the New Orleans Museum of Art. After meeting and marrying a New Orleans woman, the Crescent City became his new home. Ozols and his late wife, Gwendolyn, opened a studio in New Orleans, while continuing his work in Philadelphia doing commercial art as well as painting designs and murals.
In 1978 the Ozols opened New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts in an airy loft above an Italian restaurant on Magazine Street in uptown New Orleans. For two years all went well for the school and for the Ozols. Then tragedy struck twice: First, Gwendolyn was killed in a shooting accident on April 12, 1980, when a next-door neighbor loaded a pistol and accidentally fired a shot out his second story window. The bullet went through the Ozols’ living room window, striking and killing Gwendolyn. “It was a great tragedy in my life and still is,” as he recalled those early years. Yet, he continued to paint and devote his time to the academy and three daughters, Saskia, Aija and Charlotte." (Kemp, John)
In 2001 Ozols was interviewed by American Artist Magazine. During the interview, he explained his belief that good paintings start with good drawings. “Drawing is a search, a looking into the wonderful mysteries of creation and it is a vehicle for personal expression. Whatever we have in ourselves comes out in that drawing. It’s miraculous. You can’t learn how to paint without learning how to draw. It’s as simple as that.” Ozols describes his painting style as Romantic Realism.
John Anderson, local architect and past-president of The Arts, Hancock County talked specifically about Ozol’s mural, Christ in the Oaks. Located in Bay St. Louis’s St. Rose de Lima Catholic Church on Necaise Avenue, “Christ in the Oaks is undoubtedly an incredible piece of work by an extremely talented artist,” states Anderson, “Beyond that it represents the spiritual rebirth of St. Rose, a predominantly African American congregation. Anderson says his favorite part of the mural is the “wind” through the tree branches that was created using the family names of church members and those who helped make the mural a reality. He goes on to state, “Painted during a time of shared community introspection and action that saw a resurgence of the church as a respected pillar in the Bay St. Louis community, the work has become synonymous with St. Rose and people come from near and far to experience it.”
Anderson concluded with, “The power of art couldn’t be better represented than through this mural, which is why we are looking forward to celebrating it, Mr. Ozols, and the many others who helped make it a reality.” St. Rose and The Arts, Hancock County invite our community, and all who share an interest in the church, the mural, or the arts, to join us on Saturday, February 25 at 11:00 at St. Rose de Lima located at 301 S. Necaise Ave, Bay St Louis, MS 39520.