John Whelan was born in 1947 in Toledo, Ohio. He earned a BA in art education from the University of Toledo (Ohio) in 1969 and an MFA in painting from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio in 1972. The bulk of his professional teaching career, 1975-1998, was at Luther College where his teaching focused on drawing, artistic anatomy, painting and art history. In 1998 he left Luther as a Professor of Art to finish his degree in medicine at the University of Iowa College of Medicine in Iowa City, graduating in 2002 with an MD degree. He served one-year residencies at La Crosse-Mayo Rural Track Family Practice in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and also at the Quad Cities Genesis Family Practice in Davenport, Iowa. He did adjunct teaching in art at Winona State University (Minnesota) and Saint Mary’s University (Winona, MN), and for a year was adjunct faculty in nursing at Luther College’s Rochester (MN) campus.
Whelan’s art has been included in group shows at the Heritage Gallery in Des Moines, Iowa; Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota; and the Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art. His work has also been featured in one-person shows at Luther College; Upper Iowa University, Fayette, Iowa; the Parlor Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland; the University of Missouri-Columbia; Dakota State College, Madison, South Dakota; and Union College, Barbourville, Kentucky.
There are 13 works by Whelan in the Luther College Fine Arts Collection. A large color pencil drawing, Flower, was purchased by the Luther College Music Department from the artist in 1993. It is in the style of carefully observed and executed natural forms that characterize much of Whelan’s work. The other 12 pieces, comprised of 11 drawings and one woodcut print, include figurative images along with local and regional scenes. They were all gifts to the College by the artist.