Painting of UST Philanthropist Transcends Traditional Boundaries of Portraiture
A unique portrait painting of the late philanthropist John Davis Jerabeck was unveiled during half-time of the 2021 Homecoming at the University of St. Thomas-Houston. Unlike traditional portraits, this one reveals the multi-dimensional aspects of the notable namesake for UST’s sports facility. An observer of the painting comes away with a remarkable sense of Jerabeck’s life as a Catholic, primary physician, rancher, husky owner, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo director, and so much more—all from a fine and amazingly unconventional piece of work.
Jerabeck’s niece, Linda Starr ‘68, said, “My uncle was a bit of a “Renaissance Man.” I did not feel that a traditional headshot of him holding an open book would do him justice. He was someone who lived by his own standards and knew who he was. Both the man and the painting are unconventional and well disciplined.”
Starr commissioned the work by Houston artist Vincent Fink to replace a badly faded portrait photograph. Both drew some inspiration from the portrait of Starr’s great aunt, Isabelle Cameron, which hangs in the lobby of UST’s Cameron School of Business.
“I noticed that Aunt Isabelle’s likeness reveals several aspects of her personality through discreet details.”
Fink explained, “Linda and I then put our heads together to yield this synergistic collaboration. It was definitely a melding of Linda’s knowledge of the subject matter and my execution. What emerged was something remarkably unique.
"While working on this painting it caused me to deeply reflect on the question of what would be in my narrative portrait when I’m gone,” Fink continued. “This man left an amazing legacy of positive impact on the community, and we should all strive to do as such."
Indeed, the outcome was stunning.
“Although my uncle was an humble person, I think he would be pleased with the painting,” Starr said. “I would hope that he would feel seen and appreciated for his vision, discipline and generosity.”
The new painting will be on permanent display in the Jerabeck Activity and Athletic Center where Starr says people will see “Dr. Jerabeck ‘worlding’ and perceive an order of his world.”
“The portrait contains so much,” Starr added. “It shows the foundation of the spiritual supporting all the phenomenal. You’re looking at a man who had human shortcomings and limitations, yet he lived a very wholly, holy life.”