CH's John Troxell is thriving as a working artist
John Troxell has been “into art” since he was five years old. Now 55, Troxell, who lives on Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights, is a full-time artist whose work has been exhibited at galleries in Ohio and in several other states.
Troxell grew up on the East Side of Cleveland near Euclid Avenue and Green Road. His uncle was also “into art,” and his father “knew a lot about art.” When they left him in a babysitter’s care, his parents would leave him with a sketchpad and a pencil, and he would make drawings. He also liked to do finger paintings.
When he was in seventh grade, Troxell left Cleveland to attend a military school in Texas. After graduating from that school, he returned to Cleveland and attended Case Western Reserve University.
“I took art classes and played football,” he said. “But I really wanted to be a pre-med student.” At that point, Troxell was also creating a lot of artwork. He did not graduate from Case, and wound up taking a job as a bartender at the Hyde Park Grill on Coventry Road, a restaurant that was in the space currently occupied by Panini’s Bar and Grill.
“In the early 1980s, I started selling more of my artwork,” Troxell said. “I would do portraits of friends, winter scenes and other things.” In 1991, after 10 years, Troxell quit his job at Hyde Park and began focusing on art full time. “A lot of people would commission me to do paintings, and my bartending conflicted with my artwork,” he said.
Troxell paints a wide variety of subjects, including portraits and Greater Cleveland scenes. He has done paintings of the Cedar Fairmount neighborhood, downtown Cleveland, East 9th Street and the Shoreway and East 55th Street and Chester Avenue.
Troxell also creates large murals. One, measuring 40 feet by 100 feet, is the largest mural in Cleveland. Commissioned by Slavic Village Development, the mural is on view in Cleveland’s Slavic Village, at West 68th Street and Broadway. Another mural is on the wall at the Stone Oven Bakery and Café on Lee Road.
In 2006, Troxell’s work was exhibited at the Beck Center in Lakewood. He also had a show at the National Arts Club in New York City, and some of his portraits were exhibited at the Lee Road Library. Last December, he had a show at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus.
Many of Troxell’s paintings can be seen and purchased at Cleveland’s Bonfoey Gallery, at East 17th Street and Euclid Avenue.
Before moving to Euclid Heights Boulevard, Troxell lived on Overlook Road for about seven years. He was married and has a 24-year-old son, Martin, who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy.
Troxell loves living in Cleveland Heights. “I love the walkability of this area,” he said. “And I like that it’s a mixed community. I also love all of the stores and shops, and I love the fact that it is near Little Italy and Case Western Reserve.”
Two of his favorite destinations are Tommy’s restaurant on Coventry and Nighttown on Cedar Road.
James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley.