MENANDS – Darlene Maloney, daughter of the late World War II Veteran Joseph Nicpon combed through 350 paintings which her father created over 50-plus years.
“A Contemplative Life 1926-2021” featuring the collection of original works by Joseph Nicpon to be exhibited in memory, will be displayed at the William K. Sanford Town Library through Saturday, July 29.
“I was feeling very stressed,” Darlene Maloney as she recalled sorting through the art at both her father’s residence in Menands and at her home in Latham.
Maloney worked with several members of the town library throughout the exhibition process since last year when the thought of an exhibition came to mind.
Since the library staff needed a definitive list of exhibited works to be displayed prior to the exhibit opening and with the amount of works that her father created, it made Maloney re-consider the works that should have been added to both the event poster and exhibit, she said.
“(The exhibit) It’s more just to celebrate his talent and his life and maybe, inspire somebody else to never give up or do the same, like you can do it kind of thing,” Maloney said. “Maybe it would be another contribution of sharing, it might inspire a young painter, a young artist to just keep at it.”
Joseph Nicpon died in 2021 at his Menands residence due to developing sepsis in his lungs after a fall. Nicpon seldom shared his creations to the public, apart from his immediate family and patrons whom he donated his creations to.
Nicpon’s paintings, according to Maloney, helped tell her father’s story and express the subjects that mattered to him in his life.
From a Wake to Exhibition Status
The idea of the exhibition came from Parker Brothers Memorial Funeral Home Vice President and Funeral Director Vincent Fronczek after Nicpon’s wake. Fronczek told Maloney that her father’s art tells a story and that his art tells so much more about him. Fronczek suggested to Maloney to bring some of his art to the funeral home to display on easels.
Maloney and sister Gerrie Sylofski, did and used several of the paintings for mass cards. Patrons who paid respects to Nicpon were comforted by his work and were talking about them at his celebration of life. They found the art to be joyful.
“As time went on, I thought that it would be really cool to have an exhibit somewhere locally and I wanted to do it right away last year but they (the library) were all scheduled for the next year.” Maloney said. She asked the library for the exhibition to be placed on the library’s calendar for the following year and the director agreed.
Maloney said several paintings had been given to Sylofski who resides in Scottsdale, Ariz. and other family members and relatives, including Maloney’s two sons Joseph and Kevin and many will go to forever homes after the show closes. But before more paintings are dispersed, Maloney wants anyone who wants to view the collection an opportunity to view it in person.
About Joseph Nicpon
Born in 1926 in Albany, resided at Arbor Hill and later moved to Menands. According to Malony, Nicpon lived a simple life and was very faithful to his country, family, church and God.
The artist’s creativity began at the age of 16 when he began painting murals in the nurseries for his older sister’s children when they were born.
Nicpon served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre during World War II at 17 on the Navy ship, the USS LST 741. Nicpon’s captain wanted the ship’s numbers to be painted a bigger size and so it was Nicpon who hung over the ship to do the job.
After leaving the war, Nicpon settled into civilian life, went back to school, met his wife Rhea O’Neill Nicpon, and worked at the Watervliet Arsenal as a procurement officer until his retirement in 1985.
Joseph had many hobbies in addition to painting, including taking road trips with Rhea, camping, fishing, tending to his garden, golfing, and bowled in the Capital City Classic League.
Joseph Nicpon’s Artistry
Although the self-taught artist had “gap years” when he wasn’t creating art at home, Maloney didn’t think that they had any paintings hanging in the home until she was 12-years-old.
Nicpon painted a lake and mountain scene with a cabin and boat dating in 1970 on the cement wall side of the home.
In 1976, he painted “Westward Ho”, a horse and covered wagon riding through Wyoming. The painting remained a fixture in their home, hanging in a place of honor, above the living room fireplace.
Nicpon became a painting machine after retiring from the arsenal. Many of the subjects that he painted included religious icons, flowers, Pierre-Auguste Renoir studies, eagles, tigers, ballerinas, geese, lighthouses, fishing scenes, landscapes from his cross-country travels, family portraits and Disney characters.These subjects were painted using acrylic and oil paints on wood, canvas, canvas board, cement, and plaster.
“He lived a pretty full life, even after retirement and he wasn’t sitting on his morals,” Maloney said. “He was busy, helpful, and engaged. My parents were all about giving back and were very involved in the community”
Even with all his accomplishments and commitments, Joseph kept his artistic talents hidden from view until this year. With the exception of donating paintings of Joan of Arc to the St. Joan of ArcChurch in Menands and St. Kateri Tekakwitha for a shrine in Fonda, Maloney made it her mission to keep her father’s name alive and remembered in the form of art.
“If you don’t share your talents, what’s the point?” Maloney said. “The whole art thing, just throwing it away or doing whatever I’m gonna do with it which I don’t even know, it doesn’t seem like it’s not what you’re supposed to do with art…It’s supposed to be seen, shared, and enjoyed, whatever kind of art it is.”