I met Jack Juratovic in 1988 at Laguna Seca and then again in 1989 when I was a Guest Artist at the annual AFAS show at the Pebble Beach Concours. I became a member that year and of course saw Jack each year at not only this show but at the AFAS Amelia Island Concours show and many, many others. Jack was the editor of the printed version of AFAS Journal, the predecessor of this publication. We moved to an online only magazine some 9 years ago forced by economics and evolving technology. Jack continued to write a column for the first few years of the online publication.
I talked to Jack just 4 or 5 days before he passed away on October 15th. We talked about a retrospective on his work and he sounded well and seemed enthusiastic and he just cautioned me that "he had his good days and bad" ...but we were moving ahead and I told him we had some good lead time so that wouldn't be an issue. Little did I know at the time just how soon things would be bad. Jack was not of the digital age and so his untimely passing left us with some problems getting our hands on a lot of images of his work that we also had permission to use.
Jack Juratovic 1939-2018. A gifted artist, a supportive member of the Society, he will be missed by his many friends in the art and automotive worlds.
- Jay Koka
story by Wallace Wyss,
archive photos Ken Eberts
Some artists work purely from the aesthetic standpoint, painting cars on their sculptural appeal. But to Jack Juratovic, a former car designer, cars were a subject he approached from the inside out.
He had wrenched many a car, starting with the ’32 Ford “deuce” coupe he had in high school, to his later collector cars, including a 1940 Lincoln Continental that he owned for decades. He was also a sports car racer, driving a Jaguar in B-Production SCCA racing.
Juratovic, recalling his evolution, said that originally he wanted to be an architect but then was steered by a high school consular toward industrial design, for which he first had to take some fine arts. He eventually graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Arts in 1965 and was recruited by Ford Motor Co. to be a car designer. "Although Jack and I didn't work in the same studio at the same time, there was a lot of socializing among young designers and we became good friends" recalls longtime friend Ken Eberts.
with Hugh Ruthvan and Jack's father
He was disenchanted after two years, so quit to be a car racer, but unless you have a big sponsor that can’t last for long so he ended up at Chrysler before finally leaving The Big Three to work for an independent design firm in Detroit: William Schmidt Associates.
The good thing about working for an independent design firm was that it was there that he learned how to run a business and it wasn’t long before he called up an old styling buddy and they started a shop called BORT to do small one-off projects, such as the Mustang II Cobra show car and the Chevy Monza Mirage prototype.
Live sketching at Pebble Beach
Ah, but what about fine art?
Hold on, I’m coming to that.... As an independent designer he had to frequently draw conceptions of the cars his clients wanted. So he began to think about his art idol, Peter Helck, who he had met at a concours, and decided to depict his favorite cars as art. Helck had done cars of the early racing in America; “his” era so to speak, so Jack did cars from the Thirties right on up. Fortunately the concours d’elegances in Michigan were just starting. Though there had been Greenfield Village’s Old Car Festival, the Meadow Brook Concours was the first modern concours. And Jack was involved in the first Meadow Brook show in 1982. That more or less made official his return to the fine art world.
With Peter Helck
Live sketch at Pebble Beach
Poster signing, (Ken Eberts in foreground)
And now he’s known far and wide for his paintings of both classic and race cars. His most famous painting is of a 1935 Duesenberg SJ Roadster, known as the “Mormon Meteor” for the 2012 Glenmoor Gathering shows a streamline modern type prewar classic the Deusey racing against a streamline moderne style locomotive. Jack was possibly the first automotive fine artist to link old cars to trains, similar to Canadian Ken Dallison who frequently features airplanes in his work.
Jack’s work was not confined to prewar cars. He was also in love with postwar sports cars and more recently did one of the Glockler Porsche, a car built by a Porsche dealer that inspired Porsche to make the 550 spyder.
Jack never had an assembly line operation; he felt that a few paintings a year when was inspired was better than really cranking them out if he’s not inspired by an idea.
In contrast to the auto industry of today where computers are used even on early conceptions, Jack worked his fine art the old fashioned way, using materials at times that could have been used 100 years ago. Starting with water-based paints, including watercolor and gouache. His close friendship with famed painter Peter Helck led him into experimenting with caseins, which are milk-based paints that are very permanent.
His selection of paper is also key to the look of his work. He liked to start with a color rough thumbnail sketches, before going to the final surface--a very heavy 300-pound illustration board or gessoed Masonite. He would lay on a wash background to set the tone, and then paint in color ranging from transparent to opaque. He did the cars freehand, using reference photos even sometimes having a model of the car , 1/18th scale, so he could get the perspective. He emphasized that, though he uses photos for reference, that he was always painting a car according to how it struck him, not as it looks in the photographs. He was quoted in a Hemmings profile, saying “it's an esoteric thing - the emotion of how it makes you feel."
Jack had many assignments to do concours posters and did commissioned pieces for corporations and for individual car owners. He was a founding member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society, and served as the editor of the annual printed Automotive Fine Art Journal. He has been featured in the classy French magazine Automobile Classiques, and the British magazine Classic and Sports Cars.
Ken and Liz Eberts, Tony and Carol Sikorski with late wife Jan
In the evolution of automotive art from what some might call “hobby art” to fine art, Jack Juratovic led the way, through his work throwing a light on the great design trends of the past.
We'll give Ken Eberts the last words..."He was a loyal friend to me for 50 years; and I and many others in the old car hobby and automotive fine art field will miss him."
Wallace Wyss is a photojournalist and artist working in the US. He is a regular contributor to the magazine.