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 Jack Richard  (1922 - 2014)

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Lived/Active: Ohio      Known for: sport figure portraits, landscape and genre easel painting, murals, teaching

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Jack Richard
An example of work by Jack Richard
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following article was written by Leslie Ciammaichella for the magazine Take Charge.  She retains full copyright and submitted the article to AskART in May of 2006.

Jack Richard, Student and Teacher

Some of our readers will be wondering why I have chosen to write a story about a man instead of Take Charge’s usual editorials about local women. With Jack Richards it is because he is one of the most interesting people I have come across in my travels and I believe our readers will think so too. Also so many of the portraits he paints are of women. Many of Jacks students are women and he is most eager to promote them. And the last reason is that so many of the arts projects in this area are spearheaded and promoted by women. Women have been behind many of the art endowments in Northern Ohio and are, in many cases, the moving forces behind many of the arts projects of today. Take Charge! would like to introduce the new arts section, that will run in each issue, with this story about an icon in the arts in Northern Ohio. The magazine would like to have an editorial each issue connected with the arts and run advertisements for area artists around the article. I hope you will enjoy and get much enrichment out of this section in the future. The Arts Section will be named Jack Richard Pages, Almond Tea Gallery in honor of the contribution Jack has made to women in the arts in Northern Ohio.

Many of the area artists know of Jack Richard. If you don’t know of him, I urge you to take a ride to Cuyahoga Falls and experience his studio (Studios of Jack Richard, Almond Tea Gallery in Cuyahoga Falls). There are over 800 paintings in the building and always students painting. Make sure Jack will be there so you get to meet this delightful gentleman who knows more about the art  world in this century than any one I have ever spoken to. His stories are never the dry, boring stories of a classroom, but are alive with the sense of actually being in the place where the stories take place. Jack is equally a painter, art restoration expert, craftsman, art historian and businessman, but in his heart, teaching is his first profession. He has won so many national and local awards, trying to list them would take up an entire edition of Take Charge plus a few pages. Yet it is the awards of his students and where they have taken their careers that he is excited to talk about. Jack is both a teacher and also a student. He tells me “The world of Art is broad. There is no end to what you can learn and what you can do. Look at computer art today; it opens a whole new world in art”.

Jack is a very prolific and accomplished artist. But he feels his most worthwhile accomplishment is teaching. It is how he believes he gives back to the world and passes on the knowledge from the great teachers who taught him. He has been a teacher and mentor of art and painting in the Akron area for over 50 years. When you look at the sheer amount of art in the studio, you can hardly believe how many of those paintings came from Jacks hand. He is however, most modest about the things he has achieved. He is more interested in telling you about one of his students, or showing you something that will spark your imagination.

Jack told me his first foray into art was when he was 3 ½ years old. He doesn’t remember it, but he has the encyclopedia he was drawing in, where his father wrote next to his drawing “Drawn by Jack at 3 1/2 years old”.

Mr. Richard was educated at the Chicago Professional School of Art, University of Akron, Kent State University and Ohio University in Athens. He worked in the field of art after he was finished with school with Cliff Eitel in his studios in Chicago and then with Steven Gross. While at Steven Gross Studios he got to work with some very talented artists whose name are well known such as Ben Stahl and Thornton Utz. He also had teachers as famous as Charles Burchfield and Robert Brackman. It was Brackman who inspired Richard’s creativity and imagination and taught him how to paint so those viewing his paintings can see beyond the painting and into the character of the painting. Jack says of Brackman “He took our minds and turned them inside out”.

Richard has had a varied and wonderful career. From teaching and producing art on an early television series called The Ohio Story, to one of the highlights of Jacks Career, with his portraits of Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower(Jack has painted many of the president’s portraits). Jack was commissioned by the Tupperware Company to paint the largest portraits probably ever painted. Jack worked at the time for a company who created paint by number paintings. He would create the initial painting then break that painting down into spots of color which then became the map for the paint by number painting. This is the technique he used for the Eisenhower portraits, only they were done on 48 x 60 foot canvases that were specially produced for the project. Jack enlarged his original paintings several times and divided the large canvas into a thousand spaces and numbered them to correspond with the colors of the original painting.

The first project (Dwight Eisenhower’s Portrait was completed by two thousand Tupperware dealers in Orlando, Florida. This was done as part of the 1960 Jubilee. They had no idea what they were working on. They were each given Tupperware cups filled with a color of paint and told to fill in the numbered areas that had been assigned to them. They wore special socks as not to damage the painting. This painting was then moved to Utah State University at Logan, Utah where the second painting was painted by the same process by more Tupperware distributors. Imagine the surprise when the paintings were lifted by cranes to reveal two large paintings, exactly like Jack’s original paintings, with the likenesses of the Eisenhower’s. The project, probably one of the most unique in art history, used 32 gallons of acrylic paint and 40 different colors on the giant canvases that weighed 440 pounds before they were even painted. Each canvas took approximately only five hours to paint, Because of the combined efforts of the Tupperware people, and was the hit of their sales conventions

Jack has painted some of the most famous people of our time, as well as other times through posthumous portraits. Each year he is commissioned to paint a portrait for Firestone Country Club, to recognize an Ambassador of Golf. The original portrait goes to the recipient of the reward, while a copy is created for the country club. Through this, Richard has painted and met some of the most interesting people of our time, including Bob Hope, Gerald Ford, Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby, Nancy Lopez and George H. Bush. That is only a fraction of the list of famous names that have been lucky enough to be the recipients of these wonderful paintings. He has additionally painted many corporate heads and women’s portraits such as Mrs. E. J. Thomas. When asked who his favorite portrait was, he answered unequivocally “Dinah Shore, she was an absolute delight, the nicest person”. But he added “Actually, whom ever I am painting at the time is my favorite because this painting must be better than my last painting”. He goes on to tell me “The person least reliable in judging their own portrait is themselves, because they are used to seeing themselves only in a mirror which changes their perception.” So if someone doesn’t think their portrait resembles them enough, he has them look at themselves in a mirror and then report back. It seems to work.

In addition to portraits, Jack is well versed in modernism, landscapes and many other styles. When asked what his favorite style is, he replied “My style is not to have a style. If I had a show of 20 paintings and people thought each was done by a different artist, now that would be a show.” One trip thru the Almond Tea Gallery confirms this to be true of Jack. He excels in each type of painting he creates.

If you have ever considered painting, or have a child you think is gifted and would love to learn, you must go to The Studios of Jack Richard and enroll in a class. Jack believes the most important thing he does is teaching. He is a man who is most humble. He doesn’t want his students to mimic him, but to find their own way and style. “Students waste their time by mimicking. They need to be creative and original. I push them to be creative. That is something that is lacking in most art schools today, they don’t teach creativity in the true sense” says Jack.

Jack says the greatest lesson he can pass on, that he learned from his teachers is “Never stop teaching. I must repay my teachers by passing on what I was taught. I only succeed if my pupil surpasses me”. Jack has repaid his debt ten fold, but continues to believe he was put on earth to teach. “Give every single thing that you know to your students, because time is too short. I can’t do it all, but my students can.” His studios have turned out some of the finest artists in the area, as well as in the world. One student that began with Jack at the age of eleven is Mark Giangaspero. He is now a professional painter and many of his paintings are on display at the Almond Tea Gallery. Mark now teaches and does restoration. Seeing Marks’s paintings is a must when visiting the studios.

Jacks wife, Jane, a former student, is also a well known artist in the area. She paints under the name of Jane Williams and many of her paintings are on display in the gallery also. Her last show at the gallery had record sales and she was quite excited because many of the paintings sold to other artists, which is quite a compliment.

I asked Jack at what age is a child ready for classes. His response was “When they have the desire to create art. You can bring a child in and I will let them visit a class and I look for their desire. They will tell me that they are ready and want to create.  I never look for talent, but always look for the desire.” Jack says “I don’t teach art, because that is intangible and unexplainable, but I teach composition, color, drawing and all of the technical…but you will learn from your desire.”

I asked Jack what was his favorite thing to teach students, young and old and he replied “Shape, values, and color. No one thinks in shapes and values, they think in color as a whole. And, also, I want them to know that there is little jealousy in art because good artists just want to see more good art.”  This is truly a humble and modest person who has dedicated so much of himself to the arts in this area. He has mentored and taught several generations of artists, many who have gone on to do great things. I try to get Jack to tell me more about his awards but his interest is not in awards or accolades. His thoughts return to his students again, “Once I have given them all I know, my greatest hope is that they will add to it and become more”. We are indeed lucky to have him right around the corner from us.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information, written by April Helms, was published in The Gateway News, Kent, Ohio, August 15, 2014.


I will never forget the first time I met Jack Richard.

It was about 14 years ago. A friend and I had just moved to Cuyahoga Falls, and we decided to stroll through the riverfront area on Front Street. When we were just across from Mr. Richard's studio, we saw a small, pudgy golden-colored dog, her muzzle white with age. As we admired this sweet dog, a tiny old man -- about as tall as I am -- came out and greeted us warmly. He introduced himself and his dog (her name was Honey). He offered to give us a tour of the studio, and we agreed.

Within a few seconds of walking into the studio, I knew I was in the presence of a master artist. I recognized a few of the works, particularly Mr. Richard's detailed portrait of late "Peanuts" artist Charles Schultz and golfing great Arnold Palmer (one of Richard's many commissioned portraits for golfers who received the Ambassador of Golf award). But that first meeting with the artist who created these portraits was just a cool experience. Since that time, I stopped by his studio on several occasions over the years, either to see his work or write about his latest exhibit.

So I was saddened to hear about his death earlier this month. Jack Richard, 92, died Aug. 6 after a single car accident near his studio.

Mr. Richard was probably best known for his portraits. A sampling of the people he was commissioned to do a portrait of include Bob Hope, Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby, and former presidents George H.W. Bush, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gerald Ford. He loved talking about the people he had met through the years through his portrait work. But the scope of his art was practically limitless. Landscapes, abstracts, still life, fantasy work -- he did it all.

But a big part of his life was in teaching.

Mr. Richard loved his students, and in my visits to his studio, I quickly came to realize that the successes of his many students was his favorite topic. Indeed, on one occasion, I was trying to do more of a story on Mr. Richard and his art, in connection with his portrait of First Lady Abigail Adams being displayed at the First Lady's library in Canton. I figured it would be a fairly easy story because Mr. Richard liked to talk. But I discovered that while he liked to talk, he did not like to talk about himself. This was part of his charm (even if it did make it exasperating for me). Despite my best efforts, he always steered the subject from himself to his students, and his expression was like that of a proud father any time he spoke about his many successful protégés. So, I did what any sensible writer would do in such a situation. While I did, of course, write about Mr. Richard, I did make sure to highlight his students as well. Sometimes, it's just wiser to surrender.

A sampling of his students include Chris Heindel, who designed and crafted the bronze lion at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and Andrew Voth, who was the director for the Carnegie Museum in Oxnard, Calif. Then there's Colleen Black, who was commissioned by Gen. Colin Powell to create a sculpture that would be presented to the Medal of Honor recipients under his command. And Mark Giangaspero, who worked with Mr. Richard and has one of his pieces in the permanent collection of the Butler Museum of American Art in Youngstown. And many, many more.

Mr. Richard was a World War II veteran, and was stationed in Japan for a period during the occupation. I'll never forget the story he once told me about how his unit got an extension on their stay in Japan: by convincing the higher-ups that more time was needed to study camouflage. He laughed as he described the absurd tactics they used to gain a few more months. Eventually, Mr. Richard said, the ruse was uncovered and they had to leave. But he always spoke fondly about his time there, and several of his works, including a couple of my personal favorites, have Japanese themes.

I don't think I ever heard Mr. Richard raise his voice or speak in an angry tone, but he did have many strong opinions, especially when it came to art coverage, particularly the fine arts. He also had no qualms in speaking his mind when he disagreed about something, but he always was a gentleman.

One thing Mr. Richard always stressed in our conversations was his belief that the student should always outshine the teacher. Given the reactions to his death I saw online, Mr. Richard touched a lot of lives and set a very high bar for his students to reach.

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