Donald E. Nichols

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Donald Edward Nichols (American, 1922-1987) designer, art educator and lecturer primarily known for painting and design. Nichols was born on November 20, 1922 in Buffalo, NY to city policeman Lorenzo R. “Renny” Nichols (1890-1961) and Minnie Mae (née Muth) Nichols (1883-1959) who were married April 22, 1914. He had one older brother who was a printer, Clarence George Nichols (1917-1997) and the family resided at 18 Waverly Ave. and later at 225 Highgate Ave, in Buffalo.

Nichols’ early education included graduating from School 17 in Buffalo and then Fosdick-Masten Park High School in 1941, where he won a second prize scholarship. On June 21, 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve in WWII. During the war he worked in the Civil Third Army Engineering and served as a Sergeant in the European Theatre of Operations until 1946. After the war, he studied at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy Albright Art School in Buffalo, NY receiving his graphic design degree in 1947, and was awarded the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy Prize of a $500 traveling fellowship. He also studied in the College of Arts & Sciences program at the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts (magna cum laude) in 1949, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He later furthered his studies at the summer design program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1967.

From 1949-1954, Nichols was an Assistant Professor of Art at the Albright Art School in Buffalo and in 1950, founded the graphic design program there, later bringing the program to the State University at Buffalo, NY (UB). From 1954-1964, he taught as Assistant Professor of Art at UB, and then as Associate Professor of Art and Graphic Design and then was promoted to full Professor of Art in 1964, teaching until his death in 1987. During his time at UB, he also received faculty research fellowships and grants (1968-69). A dedicated professor, he trained many nationally prominent graphic designers, and was known as a gentle and sweet person who was dearly loved by his students. He also served as acting chair in the art department at UB in 1961, and from 1959-1971, he was a professional consultant on the New York State Arts Council.

During his career, Nichols was a member of the American Association of University Professors, the Art Directors/Communicators of Buffalo (Osborn Award 1981), as well as appointed as a Colleague for the College Creative Education Foundation, Buffalo, NY. He exhibited and won awards in many Annual Western New York Artists Exhibitions at the Albright Art Gallery, as well as across the state, the northeast and internationally in Germany. His work can be found in the permanent collection of the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY. Nichols died in the fall of 1987 in Buffalo General Hospital after a long illness at the age of sixty-four.

 

Chronology:

1922- November 20, born to city policeman Lorenzo R. “Renny” Nichols (1890-1961) and Minnie Mae (née Muth) Nichols (1883-1959), and he had older brother Clarence George Nichols (1917-1997), Buffalo, NY.

1938- Awarded the Jesse Ketchum Medal for ‘Outstanding Student in the Public Schools’, Buffalo, NY.

1941- June, received second place scholarship and graduated from Fosdick-Masten Park High School, Buffalo, NY.

1942- April 24-?, exhibited, traveling group show (Second Prize), window display designs to help aid the campaign to increase medical examination for the Buffalo & Erie County Tuberculosis Association League of Buffalo, held at the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy of the Albright Art Gallery and in local business window displays in and around Buffalo, NY.

From 1943-1946- During WWII, he enlisted on June 21, 1943 and was in the Third Army Civil Engineering in the United States Army, and served as a Sergeant in the European Theatre of Operations.

1947- Graduated with graphic design degree form the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (Albright Art School), and was also awarded the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy Prize of a $500 traveling fellowship, Buffalo, NY.

1949- Received his Bachelor of Fine Arts (magna cum laude) from the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB), NY.

From September 1949-1954- He was an Assistant Professor of Art at the Albright Art School, Buffalo, NY.

1950- Founded the graphic design program at the Albright Art School, later bringing the program to the State University at Buffalo, NY (UB).

1953- March 4–April 5, exhibited, group show, “19th Annual Western New York Artists Exhibition”, oils shown, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1954- Exhibited, group show (Two Prizes; $150 Most Popular & Vreelandt and Helen Lyman Prize of $50), “20th Annual Western New York Artists Exhibition”, for the painting “Times Square” and he also designed the cover for the exhibit program, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. June 21-July 8, exhibited, group show, “Vacation Time Exhibit”, Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY. Resided at 225 Highgate Ave., Buffalo, NY. 

From 1954-1964- Taught as Assistant Professor of Art at UB, and then as Associate Professor of Art and Graphic Design (after which was promoted to full Professor of Art in 1964, teaching until his death in 1987).

1955- March 2–April 3, exhibited, group show, “21st Annual Western New York Artists Exhibition”, oils shown, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. September 14-October 15, group show, “Faculty Show of the Albright Art School”, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1957- March 17, Gave lecture on the ‘Principles of Design’, presented by the University of Buffalo, held at the Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

1959- January, exhibited, solo show, graphic designs shown to include UB Catalog covers, greetings cards, commercial catalog cover and others, in the lobby of Hayes Hall at the University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY. February 4, exhibited, group show, “25th Annual Western New York Artists Exhibition”, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. March 1, gave lecture on ‘20th Century Graphic Design’, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. December 3, Donald’s mother Minnie died, with services held at Sieck & Mast Funeral Home and funeral services at Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church, 398 Northampton Street, Buffalo, NY. Did illustrations for the, California Journal of Commercial Arts. Did illustrations for the publication, School Arts.

From 1959-1971- Was a consultant on the New York State Arts Council.

1961- Served as acting chair in the art department of the University at Buffalo, NY. August 11, Donald’s father Lorenzo R. “Renny” Nichols died at his home at 225 Highgate Avenue at the age of seventy-one, with services held at Sieck & Mast Funeral Home and burial at Elmlawn Cemetery, Tonawanda, NY.

1962- Was commissioned to do graphics for the annual catalog of the New York State Council on the Arts, Albany, NY.

1963- Exhibited, group show, New York State Fair.

1964- December 13, was promoted to full Professor of Art at the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB), Buffalo, NY.

From 1964–1987- Taught as Professor of Art and Graphic Design, and was also head of the Communication Design Program at the State University of New York at Buffalo, NY.

1965- May 19, gave lecture on ‘Illustrated Art’ sponsored by the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo, at the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, NY.

1967- Furthered his studies at the summer design program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA. Exhibited, group show (Award $100), “Art Today”, for the painting “Twentieth Century Heritage”, New York State Fair, Syracuse, NY. Did illustrations for the publication, School Arts. Was residing at 530 Mt. Vernon Rd., Cheektowaga, NY.

From 1968–1969- He received faculty research fellowships and grants from the State University of New York.

1968- January 6-26, exhibited, group show, “Faculty Art Show”, two paintings shown to include his State Fair prize winner “Twentieth Century Heritage”, and “Gravity Red”, Upton Gallery, Buffalo State College, NY.

1969- Exhibited, group show, “Convocation of the Arts”, at the State University of New York at Albany, NY. Designed the cover and did illustrations for, Journal Creative Behavior, from the Creative Educational Foundation. Designed the logotype creation and illustrations for the magazine, Humanist, Amherst, NY. Did graphic commission work for the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cambridge, MA.

1970- April, exhibited, group show, “Internationales Design Zentrum” (International Design Center), Berlin, Germany. October, Donald was appointed as a Colleague for the Creative Education Foundation, Buffalo, NY. October, exhibited group show, personal designs and photographic examples for the Creative Education Foundation, Butler Library, SUNY College at Buffalo, NY. December 3-?, exhibited, group show, “First Ecumenical Exhibition”, acrylic painting and three photographs shown, Parkside Church, Buffalo, NY.

1973-74- December 11–January 7, solo show, “Retrospective Exhibit of Christmas Cards”, designed by Nichols, in the lobby of Mohawk Valley Community College’s Payne Hall, Utica, NY.

1981- Received the Osborn Award from the Art Directors/Communicators of Buffalo, NY.

1982- Received the New York State Chancellor's Award.

1987- Fall, died in Buffalo General Hospital after a long illness at the age of sixty-four, Buffalo, NY.

1997- January 11, Donald’s brother Clarence died.

 

Memberships/Associations: American Association of University Professors; Member Art Directors/Communicators of Buffalo (Osborn Award 1981); Appointed as a Colleague for the College Creative Education Foundation, Buffalo, NY; Phi Beta Kappa;

Awards/Honors: Jesse Ketchum Medal for ‘Outstanding Student in the Public Schools’, 1937; Second Prize for window display design to help aid the campaign to increase medical examination for the Tuberculosis League of Buffalo, held at the Albright Gallery and in local businesses around Buffalo, NY, 1942; Awarded the $500 traveling fellowship after graduating from the Albright Art School in 1947; Most Popular Painting Prize of $150 from Kittinger Co. Inc., for his painting “Times Square”, and also the Vreelandt and Helen Lyman Prize of $50, in the “Western New York Exhibit”, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, 1954; New York State Fair Expos Award, “Art Today” exhibit, Syracuse, NY, 1967; Received faculty research fellowships and grants from the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB), 1968-69; Osborn Award, Art Directors/Communicators of Buffalo, 1981; Recipient of the New York State Chancellor's Award, 1982; and the Kittinger Award.

Collections: Untitled painting of a ‘Amusement Park with Rollercoaster & Rides’, oil on canvas, 30-1/4 x 40-1/4, Burchfield-Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

(Written & compiled by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., 478 Main Street, East Aurora, NY, 14052, meibohmfinearts.com, sources: Too long to list here and are furnished upon request.)

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