News Column

Art community mourns the death of well-known Cuyahoga Falls portrait artist

August 9, 2014

By Marilyn Miller, The Akron Beacon Journal

Aug. 09--Jack Richard was known for his artwork -- especially his portraits.

He was commissioned to paint first ladies Mamie Eisenhower and Barbara Bush, golfers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and entertainers Dinah Shore and Bing Crosby.

He also painted the Ambassador of Golf portraits for Firestone Country Club for 22 years.

In all, he did more than 6,000 portraits and is in more than 1,200 private collections. He restored more than 700 works of art for museums and historical societies.

His Abigail Adams historic portrait is in the National First Ladies' Library and Museum in Canton.

Mr. Richard, 92, died Wednesday following an automobile accident.

Cuyahoga Falls police said he was driving through the parking lot of his studio behind 2250 Front St. when he accelerated into the parking deck and struck a concrete trash can and then a parking deck pillar.

He died a few hours later at Akron City Hospital.

Funeral arrangements will be handled by Catavolos Funeral Home, 3653 W. Market St. Calling hours will be from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday with the service following. He will be buried immediately after the service at Rose Hill Cemetery.

For the past 54 years he has owned the Studios of Jack Richard, which also houses the Almond Tea Art Gallery in Cuyahoga Falls on Front Street.

Mr. Richard was an avid reader, swam every day, loved the opera and classical music. His friends said he often commented on why there were so many sports pages in the Beacon Journal and not enough pages for the art section and crusaded for more interest in art.

He was director of the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center for nine years. He helped start the center and continued to support it. Every Tuesday he taught scenic landscape, portrait, still life and figure painting in oil, watercolor, pastel and acrylics at his studio.

And he didn't really have one particular style of painting.

"He was a great teacher, that was an important role in his life," said Mark Giangaspero, a former student who has worked for him for the last 40 years. "He had a lot of very well-known students who studied with him who have become painters and sculptors all around the country.

"He was very patient and very generous with his time and knowledge. He never held anything back."

Giangaspero said his mentor and friend also produced the art on a television series called The Ohio Story. He would get the script and then set to hand draw the storyboards, producing 70 to 100 watercolors a week on the history of Ohio.

He also worked for a couple of religious television programs including the Story of Job. He designed toys and toy boxes for Warner Brothers when he was a commercial artist. He also worked on religious murals at various churches.

"He never felt that he should be noted for just having one style and it kind of hurt his reputation a little bit because it's hard for a gallery to promote your work if you don't work in one style," said Giangaspero. "But he was very versatile and could do everything from abstractions to complete high-detail realism. But what he pretty much made his living from, regionally he was a well-known portrait artist."

Sizable contribution

Don Getz said his father-in-law, Richard Krupp, of Silver Lake, worked with Mr. Richard on a project that was said to be among the largest portraits ever painted using 32 gallons of acrylic paint and 40 different colors.

"Jack was commissioned to do large portraits of Mamie and Dwight Eisenhower for the annual sales convention for the Tupperware Co. [part of the 1960 Jubilee]. He did the portraits, then my father-in-law helped him break it down to paint by number," he said. "Every salesperson got a can of paint with a number on it and was told to find that number and paint the block in. The canvases were 80 feet high. They had to use cranes to lift them."

Mr. Richard was educated at the Chicago Professional School of Art, the University of Akron, Kent State University and Ohio University in Athens. He also studied with Cliff Eitel in his studios in Chicago and Steven Gross. He worked with well-known artists such as Ben Stahl and Thornton Utz, Charles Burchfield and Robert Brackman.

He was married to artist Jane Williams, a former student who was also a well-known artist in the area. She died four years ago.

Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or


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Source: Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

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