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Senior Lifestyles

Artist relishes long creative life

4/4/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Jack Richard is shown with prints of some of the portraits he’s created in a lifetime as an artist.
Photo: Kathleen Folkerth
CUYAHOGA FALLS — For more than 50 years, Jack Richard has maintained his artists’ studio, gallery and school in a three-story building on Front Street.

“We’re in our 52nd year,” he said, which makes his the oldest continually operating business in the Riverfront Square District with the exception of a bank.

Richard said he doesn’t like to give his age but loves sharing his lifetime of experiences with visitors to the gallery.

Soon he plans to have completed and on display a retrospective of his career that starts with his earliest work, in which he drew on the blank pages of his family’s encyclopedias in 1926 at the age of 3.

Richard, a Cuyahoga Falls resident, said he graduated from Buchtel High School in West Akron. He spent three years in the U.S. Army during World War II and was stationed in the Philippines and Japan.

“I didn’t like the Army and they didn’t like me,” he said.

But the experience did expose him to the art of Asia, which is well represented in his gallery.

He received his art training at the Chicago Professional School of Art, Kent State University, The University of Akron and Ohio University.

Much of his early career was in illustration. In his gallery, he features magazine covers and advertising work, including package design, he did over the years.

As a painter, Richard earned a reputation for his portraits. He has painted presidents (George H.W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford), executives (Raymond Firestone and M.G. O’Neil), sports stars (Arnold Palmer and Gary Player) and entertainers (Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dinah Shore).

In most cases, he met with his subject and sketched them and took photos for their likeness. In the portraits, he then added scenes from their life, interests and accomplishments around them.

Richard beams when he talks about hearing from Bush a year after he received his portrait.

“He sent me a personal note,” he said.

The Studios of Jack Richard also offers art classes for any level of student. Richard said he’s had many students move on to great success in the art world, such as Charles Pfahl.

“I’ve had students from all around the world,” he said.

Richard was married later in life to artist Jane Williams for 36 years. She passed away three years ago, he said, and he features many of her works in the gallery as well.

The business also features framing services, restoration work and appraisals, Richard said.

His personal studio is located on the top floor, which is filled with easels, stools and works in various stages of completion, including a bust of his father.

Richard relies on the elevators in his building to get up and down, but he said retirement is not a word in his vocabulary.

“When they pick me up off the floor, that’s when I’m done,” he said.

The studio and gallery is at 2250 Front St. and can be reached at 330-929-1575.

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