Great teachers don’t merely pass on knowledge. They model how to live a passionate and engaged life. So it is with George Nick, the realist painter born in 1927, who taught at Massachusetts College of Art, as it was then known, for 25 years.
Galvanized Truth: A Tribute to George Nick at the Art Complex Museum, celebrates Nick’s toughness and spark as a teacher. The show, put together by painter (and Nick acolyte) Kimberlee C. Alemian, features work by the artist, a half dozen of his peers, and more than 30 of his students.
With his childlike delight in the sheer materiality of oil paint, and his mastery of its manipulation, Nick makes paintings that burst with life. You can see it in Nick’s painting on the right, “Fokker Dri 1917 (The Red Baron).” Some of his students took their cue from his surrender to the moment – Eric Aho has work in this show. Others, such as Linda Pochesci, picked up on his extraordinary sensitivity to how light moves over surfaces. The show might seem traditional and even stodgy, with all its still lifes and landscapes, but what Nick taught was a deep engagement with whatever you’re looking at, and with your material – and that’s never stodgy. It’s something many of his students hold onto as a Bible of how to make art.