They called him the ‘street painter’

Maria Nann

Art show honors former Kent State student Roy Nedreberg, who painted ‘whatever he saw

Mary Jane Stone, the woman coordinating the memorial gallery, poses with some of Roy Nedreberg’s art, including a self-portrait he painted. “He taught me how to see things,” says Stone, “how to see color.” Stone and Nedreberg met in Kent in 1981; she says

Credit: DKS Editors

VIEW a gallery of Roy Nedreberg’s work.

Roy Nedreberg never planned to be an artist, his brother, Tom Nedreberg, said.

“He just was.”

Roy, who spent a large part of his adult life in Kent, was what his mother Marguerite Nedreberg called a “representational painter.”

“He had a way of seeing things,” Marguerite said. “He had a way of pulling it all together.”

The local artist died Feb. 13 from esophageal cancer. He was 53.

Because of his lifestyle, his mother said, he never had medical benefits.

“He’d never go to a doctor,” she said.

Roy was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in December and died two months later.

“It was quick and devastating,” Marguerite said.

Because of Roy’s locality, Studio 425 in Kent is hosting a memorial gallery to celebrate his art and life.

“He had a bunch of fans in the area and a bunch of people who loved him,” said Mary Jane Stone, who is coordinating the show. “It makes sense to celebrate his art in that way.”

Roy considered himself a “street painter,” Tom said. “Whatever he saw, he painted.”

But there is more to his paintings than what meets the eye.

“His artwork was very pointed,” Tom said. “There’s so much more than just a representation. There was always something else beyond.”

Roy spent the late 1970s and early 1980s living in a garage in Kent and working as a bus driver for PARTA.

He showered at work and heated his home with a space heater.

All his money went into his art.

“It made him realize there’s a price to pay for everything,” Tom said. “It profoundly impacted him.”

After serving in the military, Roy enrolled at Kent State as an art major.

He left without getting a degree and continued to work on polishing his skills as an artist.

He returned to Kent State some 20 years later, but again left without a degree.

Roy felt that commercial arts was “prostituting his talents,” Marguerite said.

“He had to just paint what he saw,” she said.

Eventually, Roy ended up moving to San Francisco to further his art career.

But before he could establish a name for himself, his grandmother passed away.

“Roy gave up that budding art career in San Francisco and took care of my grandfather,” Tom said. “He was the type (to) come home and give up what his visions were for the sake of his grandfather.”

Although Roy painted very little during the time he lived with his grandfather, his love for art eventually led him to pursue his career.

“He had to rearrange his life to let the art happen,” Tom said. “But he decided he wasn’t going to do that anymore. He was just going to do art because that’s what he was.”

Over the years, Roy’s artwork has migrated throughout the United States, his mother said.

“His paintings are all over the country,” Marguerite said.

She and Tom have been tracking down his artwork since he passed away, and have gone as far as New York to find some paintings.

They are incorporating as much as possible into the gallery.

“We wanted to memorialize Roy and celebrate his art,” Stone said.

His artwork will be on display at Studio 425, located at 425 Gougler Avenue, June 19-27.

Viewing is by appointment only.

There will be a memorial reception at the studio Friday, at which Roy’s artwork will be on display.

For more examples of Ray’s artwork, visit

Contact principal reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].