Kenneth R. Nunamaker

American, 1890 - 1957
Kenneth Rollo Nunamaker was born in Akron, Ohio, on March 6,1890. He was educated in the Akron public schools and never attended an art school.

At age seventeen Nunamaker, who was always adventurous, went west and worked as a cattle puncher to support himself. About four years later he returned to Akron and landed a job at an advertising agency. He subsequently worked in commercial art studios in Chicago and later in Detroit. In 1914 he was again in Ohio, working at the Akron Engraving Company. He began sketching while working there and sometimes went out painting with a group of men from the office. Nunamaker said that he acquired "the rudiments of design, form, color, and composition in the hard schools of commercial art studios." He relished the out-of-doors, and despite his professional experience Nunamaker's artistic foundation in these early years came from direct observations of nature, its colors and shapes.

In large part because he had heard of the natural beauty of the Delaware River, Nunamaker traveled to the east in 1918 and worked as an art director for Hoedt Studios in Philadelphia. He bought a home along the Delaware River at Center Bridge in 1923, and remodeled the old house into a charming residence for his family. His studio on the hill was largely his own handiwork. He was skilled not only with a paintbrush but also with mechanical tools.

Nunamaker was strongly influenced by Edward Redfield, who lived and painted nearby in Center Bridge. Redfield had very few students, but nevertheless became a mentor to Nunamaker, meeting with him weekly and reviewing his work. Nunamaker also became friends with Daniel Garber and several other members of the New Hope artists' community. Almost exclusively a landscape artist, he painted scenes of the farms, valleys, buildings, and bridges in the area surrounding New Hope. He also painted coastal views at his summer homes, on Monhegan Island, Maine, and at Lake Champlain, Vermont.

From 1923 onward his work was displayed at local galleries around New Hope and Philadelphia and in some of the world's finest institutions, including the International Gallery in Venice, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Philadelphia Sketch Club, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
In 1945 Nunamaker left Hoedt Studios and opened the Nunamaker Studio in the Beury Building in Philadelphia. Working with his artist son, Alfred, he did freelance commercial art until his death. He died at a hospital just across the Delaware River in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1957. He was survived by his son and his wife, Mary Roush Nunamaker.

Known for his serene good nature, Nunamaker brought an unassuming dignity to his work. One writer said at his death, "When his name is mentioned in the county and someone says: 'He was my favorite artist,' someone else will invariably add, 'He was my favorite person.'"

Biography courtesy of Roughton Galleries, www.antiquesandfineart.com/roughton
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