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Rixford Upham Jennings
Rixford (Rix) Upham Jennings (American, 1906-1996) Western New York artist, painter, commercial illustrator, designer, etcher and teacher. Rix was born February 26, 1906 and was raised in East Aurora, NY. He was the son of Walter Upham Jennings (American, 1878-1963), a skilled coppersmith (“Chaser” hand-tooler) and master bookbinder at the Roycroft Campus, founded by writer-philosopher & businessman Elbert Hubbard.

Rix studied at the Albright-Knox Art School in Buffalo, NY, the Buffalo School of Fine Arts, the Buffalo Art Institute, and later furthered his studies at the Art Center in Los Angeles, CA. His professional career as a commercial artist started in the mid 1920’s. By 1928, he had designed stained glass windows for the St. Matthias Episcopal Church in East Aurora, NY. Between the years of 1944-45, he entered the animation school at Walt Disney Studios in Anaheim, CA. While there, he worked on Disney’s movie, Fantasia (released 1946). He moved back to W.N.Y. in the 1950’s, where he resided for the rest of his life with his wife, artist Sydney Jennings (American, 1920-2001) and their children.

A versatile and prolific artist for over seventy years, he is primarily known for his landscape and cityscape watercolors, but also worked in oils, charcoal, pastels, pen & ink, lithography, etching, woodcarving, tile painting and stained glass design. He traveled extensively and painted in New York City, Grand Teton National Park, New England as well as Western New York. He taught art classes at the University at Buffalo and held a position on the board of directors of the Professional Art Guild of Buffalo. He also taught classes out of his own studio at his home in East Aurora, NY.

He was a member of the American Watercolor Society (AWCS), the Buffalo Society of Artists (BSA), the Buffalo Print Club, East Aurora Paint and Varnish Club (c.1904-c.1935), the Philadelphia Watercolor Club, the Maine Art Association, Goose Rocks Beach, the Scriptors Club of Buffalo and was affiliated with the New York Watercolor Club (NYWC), and Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society (NFWS). He served as president of both the BSA (1945-46) and the Patteran Society and was one of the founding members of the Roycrofters-at-Large Association (RALA). He designed the RALA Renaissance trademark which is still in use today.

In East Aurora, he contributed numerous art works to various public and professional buildings within the town. He designed the East Aurora village seal, a series of murals at the local Aurora Town Hall (depicting the history of East Aurora) and the graphics for the Town’s 1968 sesquicentennial celebration. He also completed murals featuring the Iroquois Nation, at the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. He has done illustrations for the West Point Academy yearbook, and the first ten years of covers for the WNY magazine, Buffalo Spree.

Exhibited at: The Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (their annual exhibit of WNY artists), Buffalo, NY, the Wilcox Mansion, Buffalo, NY, the Keenan Center, Lockport, NY, Meibohm Fine Arts, East Aurora, NY, the headquarters for Fisher-Price (Mattel), East Aurora, NY, the Art Institute of Chicago (1939), IL, the Chicago Watercolor Club, IL, the AWS & the NYWC galleries, NY, Kennebunk, ME, the Walt Disney School Gallery, and Princeton University.

He won numerous awards over the course of his career including the Award of Merit by the American Watercolor Society, the gold, silver & bronze medals at the BSA as well as the popularity prize, and best drawing in a W.N.Y. exhibition.

Rix died on January 20th, 1996 at the age of 89 in Mercy Hospital, Buffalo, NY, after a brief illness.

For additional information on this artist or for other possible examples of his works, please visit the AskArt link

(Rewritten and Compiled by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., East Aurora, NY, Sources: Who was Who in American Art, 1999; Portrait photograph by Eric Demme; 2/R Fine Arts Gallery Major Retrospective; East Aurora My Home Town, 1983; The Buffalo News, obituary.)