About Thomas Keith VanNortwick

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dad3My dad “Thomas Keith VanNortwick” was born in ’32 in Cozad, Neb. He joined the Navy in ’51 and stayed till ’59. While in the Navy he got interested in photography and became an official Navy Photographer. His first tour was on the U.S.S. Princeton, then later he was on the U.S.S. Forrestal.

Van (as he was called by family and friends) was a natural artist. Basically he could do it all- pottery, jewelry, sculpture, and painting. Of his painting he did about 550 works, 98% of them being oil on canvas. Most of his paintings were landscapes (with old buildings or rusty machinery), or still-life’s with a handful of portraits. Just about all of his paintings were American landscapes in the photo-realistic style. One of his paintings “Brown & Parker” is a store/gas station in Goldfield, Nevada. This store is in the background of the original version of the movie “Vanishing Point.” It is right across the street from the radio station.

dad2Dad lived in Sacramento, CA. From the late 50’s till about ’68. He then moved to Ione, CA. Till about ’70. While in Ione, he taught art at the Preston School of Industry (a prison). The painting of the administration building hangs in the warden’s office.

Around ’70-’71, he moved to Caves Junction, Oregon. By this time he was painting full-time. In fact too much time, he would paint between 15 and 20 hours a day, sleeping only 3-5 hours a night for several years took it’s toll and in ’72 at the age of 40, he started having heart attacks. His last paintings were done in ’75(there may be two or three done in ’76- the doctor wanted him to stop painting). He was driven to paint, too intense.

This is an excerpt from a review by William Bayer of Sierra Madre, CA. written in ’70:

“It has become fashionable over the last 77 years to look at painting as other than image. People speak of structure, of tension, of surface, of psychology, of anything but image. That these others are not important is not being said. But people seem to forget image in their search for art. People forget the imperative of the artist to see, to see clearly, to see how, to see differently, with that curious sidestepping emphases that can help explain the importance of things.

dad1This VanNortwick does: does well. He can see, can see clearly, can see differently. Furthermore, VanNortwick can paint as clearly as he sees. What he sees- a poetic and nostalgic, but nonetheless and specifically accurate vision of the landscape and it’s human accretion- he paints without let or equivocation.”

Dad died in Feb. ’77 at age 45. Most of these reproductions were done from his slide collection. A few of them were done from the original paintings that my sister Venicia (Van) and I own. These prints are made as close to the size of the original work as possible.

I have found dad’s paintings in the collections of: John Entwistle (of The Who), Harold & Alice Gilbert, Arthur Godfrey, and Bill & Van Hancock.

If you or someone you know has an original VanNortwick painting, please let me know. I’d like to hear from you.

– Tom VanNortwick