BRATTLEBORO—To commemorate the career of Nicolas A. Apgar (1918-2011), the Catherine Dianich Gallery will open “Mid-Century Master,” a retrospective of the painter and teacher’s work, on Dec. 7, during Gallery Walk, with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
As noted in the artist statement, Apgar transposed his inner thoughts to canvas. He intended his art to reflect his emotions. At the same time, he left room for viewers to help create the work, using their own perceptions.
Apgar’s idyllic early childhood deeply influenced his later approach to color in his paintings, and the quality of light in his native Normandy, he often said, was “like living inside an opal.”
Apgar’s family moved to the United States when he was 9 years old, eventually settling in Albany, N.Y. He showed an early interest in drawing and studied with painter Fletcher Martin.
He attended Syracuse University’s College of Fine Arts in 1939, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1959. In between and following, he worked as a medical illustrator and illustrated numerous medical books and articles.
At Syracuse University, Apgar studied with Josef Albers, Louis Bosa, and Jean Charlot. He was particularly interested in the fresco techniques of Charlot and the color theory of Albers.
Apgar completed a large fresco of the Four Humours (destroyed years later when the building was demolished) in the amphitheater of the SUNY Upstate Medical Center.
He earned his master of fine arts degree in 1961, demonstrating mastery in multiple media: oils, watercolor, pastels, gouache, and tempera; printmaking techniques (drypoint, copper plate etching, engraving, lithography, linoleum cut, woodcut); drawing (pencil, charcoal, ink, and silverpoint); sculpture in clay and metal; and fresco.
In addition, he had to demonstrate an intermediate proficiency level in two languages; he chose Italian because of the art of the Italian Renaissance, and Russian because of the Cyrillic alphabet’s visual interest.
In 1962, at age 44, he relocated with his family to Richmond, Va., to join the faculty of the Communication Arts and Design department of Richmond Professional Institute, now Virginia Commonwealth University, from which he retired as a full professor after 32 years.
During his teaching career, he inspired and changed the lives of many students. He continued to exhibit his award-winning work.
National shows in which Apgar’s work was exhibited include Birmingham, Alabama; Pittsfield, Mass.; Jackson, Miss.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Youngstown, Ohio; and Norfolk, Va.
His works are in the collections of various educational institutions, including Landmark College in Putney, and in numerous private collections.
In 2004, Apgar moved to Brattleboro to be closer to his daughter, Nancy A. Olson, of Putney. He had a one-man show of new work, curated by Dianich, at Amy’s Bakery Arts Café in 2006.
In a news release, gallery owner and co-curator Catherine Dianich called the show “an emblematic view into mid-century modernism.”
“Because Apgar was quite conversant with this period, the viewer has an opportunity to see an in-depth exploration of the period and how it looks from the viewpoint of a well established artist,” she said.