About Jack S Bihm

    The Gallery










...by Keith Richards


In 1997 I took a job with a huge, nationwide, retail bookstore as a bookseller. Within the few years that I have worked there, I have become familiar with a wide array of ‘regular’ customers that often spend the better part of their days, every day, lounging around the store drinking coffee and reading. Among these regulars, one old man in particular, stands apart from the rest and has come to be regarded as something of an enigma. Most days he is waiting at the door when we open in the morning, dressed in a gray sport coat, flower in his lapel (picked fresh off of the local foliage),light-blue, button-down shirt tucked in to tan trousers and a pair of ‘skater’ style sneakers with the laces wrapped around the ankles. His 6 foot-two-inch-or- so frame, is topped off by a small patch of gray hair that is kept short. Generally, within a few minutes of entering the store, he finds a book of some kind, takes a seat, and begins to draw. Then maybe, once, twice, sometimes three times a day, he gives these drawings to the staff. Occasionally, it is possible to see where he has drawn inspiration from a popular movie or song that has saturated the media. More often than not though, the inspiration is less obvious and we are left to wonder. On even more rare occasions, the drawings are accompanied by an explanation or a song as he hands it to the chosen recipient. Because he is usually so reluctant to talk, these interactions have become our primary source of information about him. When he does happen to engage in conversation, he speaks in cryptic aphorisms, and it is often necessary to ask him a question several times before he responds with an answer that you may or may not understand. What I have gleaned from speaking to him, is this- he is about 70 years old and was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He received a degree in agriculture from the University of Nebraska and fought in the Korean war. He claims to have no direct, living relatives and to have never gotten married. He alludes to past girlfriends between lyrics of lost love and makes frequent references to old movies. Beyond this, we know almost nothing of him.

When I first started working at the bookstore, people paid him no attention, and managers threw away his drawings upon sight. More and more though, I found myself intrigued and looking forward to his sketches. Then, after about six months, I put out the word to my managers and co-workers that I would be saving his sketches from then on. That was over two years ago now, and his output has remained constant. Now, a few hundred drawings later, thanks to the fine work of two friends & fellow Jack S. Bihm fans (a co-worker and his website-designing wife), a selection of his drawings can now be enjoyed by anyone, via this website.