From his personal collection, Rosepine resident Ralph Liliedahl will exhibit the work of several famous artists in April at the RealArt (RAD) Gallery in DeRidder.

Ralph’s collection of paintings began when he and his late wife Johnnie Liliedahl opened a commercial studio in 1999 near Houston.

“(Johnnie) was a wonderfully creative and intelligent person, as well as a gifted artist, and she had a passion for teaching art to others,” Ralph said. “The studio gave us the opportunity to invite world class artists to teach there and film their demonstrations in the process.”

The collection began when the couple started purchasing some of the paintings completed in their studio. They also acquired artwork in their travels to other artists’ studios.

The international exhibit at RAD will include about 15 paintings all created by contemporary artists as well as 12 to 13 of Johnnie’s paintings.

Ralph said it is difficult to choose a favorite but he leans toward the work of Daniel Keys. “(He is) a relatively young and very gifted painter that we filmed and have a wonderful floral still-life painting that will be in the exhibit,” Ralph said.

Johnnie, Ralph, and his current wife Wanda all graduated from Leesville High School in 1963.  

Johnnie and Ralph got married in 1985. He was working in Saudi Arabia, so she traveled back and forth to keep her US-based art business alive.

Ralph worked for 15 years for Shell Oil in a joint venture with Saudi Arabia in Jubail, KSA.  He eventually earned the title of Senior Staff Engineer working as an Automation Controls Engineer.

Due to the tense political situation there, he decided to terminate his employment with Shell Oil in 1999 and return to the US.

That is when he and Johnnie opened their commercial studio. “Quite a transition, but I'm a fast learner and found it to be very rewarding, despite the difference in my past,” he said. “We created a unique business that not only survived but had substantial growth in the 10 years before Johnnie's death in 2009.”

Ralph had not seen or spoken to Wanda since high school graduation. “God put her in my path just before Johnnie passed in October 2009, and Wanda and I eventually married in 2011,” Ralph said.

He kept the video production aspect of the studio business running until 2013 when he sold and moved to Wanda’s home in Rosepine.

“Never dreamed I would wind up in Rosepine,” Ralph said.

His mother and two sisters were originally from the Burr Ferry area, west of Leesville, but were eventually raised in DeRidder. “All three of them are buried in the DeRidder Memorial Cemetery, south of DeRidder,” Ralph said.

His father and grandfather lived in Rosepine which is where the name for Liliedahl Road came from.

“My Mother and Father were married in Rosepine and my two oldest siblings were born in Rosepine before they all moved to Leesville,” Ralph said. “Goes to prove that you never know what's ahead.”

The international exhibit of Ralph’s personal art collection will be on display 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday from April 4 through 28. A reception which is open to the public will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 7.

The RAD Gallery is located at 108 West First Street in DeRidder.