With a lifelong dream of being artists, identical twins prepare for their first show

Jeff and John Winkle are identical twins who grew up in Ludlow, Ky. Both had an interest in design and art, and both went to college to study graphic design.

But for John, studying graphic design wasn’t quite the same as practicing it, so he dropped it and graduated as a painting major with a minor in sculpture. Jeff, on the other hand, graduated as a graphic design major with a minor in illustration.

After graduation, both delayed their art careers and started a landscape company. A year after starting that company, Jeff decided to pursue graphic design as a career, while John continued in the landscape business for 23 more years. 
Over the years, they would often talk about the possibility of having an art studio and creating artwork together. It was an idea they couldn't get out of their heads. Once, when they saw a building for sale, it spurred them to act on their long -delayed dream. In Ludlow, they found a building they could afford because it was in need of so much work. They bought it and got started.

Now, the twins are preparing to open their first show, at a studio in downtown Cincinnati. The show, “Divided By/Two,” is said to be inspired by their memories and experiences of life in a small town “and is meant to remind us of humanity, humility, common sense, simpler times, faith, aspirations, hard work, heart, and hope.”

“It’s difficult to distill where our inspiration and influence comes from because there is a wide variety of factors, both visually and emotionally, in play at all times,” says John Winkle. Other artists, ranging from the Renaissance to the Impressionists to Pop Art, college mentors, graphic design, and working in a landscape business, are all factored in. “My brain somehow sorts through those emotions and visuals, and this is just what comes out,” John says.

“The first time I saw a painting by the Winkle brothers, it stopped me dead in my tracks,” says Paul Kroner, an artist and owner of Studio Kroner, which will host the show. “Bold, graphical mark making and composition, absolutely fresh and unique.”

Studio Kroner, opened in April 2021, is artist Kroner’s workspace, as well as a space for other artists to showcase their work and to host book readings, concerts, and private events.

“Divided By/Two” opens with a public reception on Thursday, June 23, from 6-9 p.m. and runs through July 23, at Studio Kroner, 130 West Court St.
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David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.