Hugh M. Neil was born in 1930, in Amsterdam, New York. He attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York as an undergrad, from 1953-54. One of his teachers was Ralph L. Wickiser, a master of form, color, texture and light, who had a profound influence on Neil.
Neil came to Buffalo, NY in 1954, to further his art education at the State University College for Teachers at Buffalo (now Buffalo State College). There he met rising abstractionist Peter Busa, who was then an artist-in-residence. Busa was impressed with Neil’s portfolio and became an ad hoc advisor. Neil was the beneficiary of Busa’s study with the influential Hans Hofmann. And Busa’s stories about his friendships with renowned 20th century artists Stuart Davis and Arshile Gorky revealed their influences on Busa’s work.
In 1956, Neil, who chose not to enter many juried exhibitions, was encouraged by his professors to enter two of his paintings in the Western New York Exhibition at the Albright Art Gallery. Exhibiting alongside such popular regional artists as Virginia Cuthbert, Seymour Drumlevitch, Philip Elliott, Martha Visser’t Hooft, and Busa, Neil took home the Patteran Society Prize for “The Most Meritorious Multiple Works by One Artist.”
Another of Neil’s paintings, Couple (1956), was selected for an international traveling exhibition by a committee that included the U.S. Information Agency, the American Federation of Artists, and UNESCO. This painting was shown around the world from 1957-59.
Neil continued his education throughout his early career, returning to Pratt in 1962 for graduate work. He completed his Masters at UB in 1964, where he studied with Drumlevitch and Harvey Breverman.
Neil taught Art Education for 35 years at Buffalo State College. His own influence on countless students can be felt both throughout our art educational system, and the art community at large.
Information provided by Dean Brownrout