For Jerry Nabors, his dream to one day become an artist dates back to a much earlier time in life. While growing up on a farm in rural Southwest Oklahoma, Jerry’s exposure to art was non-existent and Contemporary Fine Art was, most certainly, a world away from the farm life he knew. But his first art class, taken in his senior year at Mangum High School, helped reignite the inner fires of a childhood dream he coveted and his journey began.
Graduating from high school in 1967, Jerry pursued a college degree in fine art. Working two jobs as a full-time student was a challenge; but, for Jerry, every hour spent in the art department was “like a dream come true.” After his first semester, he was determined to pursue his life-long dream of being an artist. At the end of four years, Jerry graduated with honors and a double major in painting and drawing and an education degree. But his post graduate plan to continue school and get his Master’s Degree in painting at OU got redirected in December of his junior year with the first draft lottery. Jerry’s birthdate was the twelfth number drawn out of 365 and no deferments were given for graduate school during the Vietnam War. Being drafted upon graduation in May of 1971 was inevitable. His journey was going to take a definite curve.
Expecting to be sent to Vietnam at completion of basic training, Jerry was surprised to learn that his college degree in art had garnered the attention of the Army Recruiting Support Center in Alexandria, Virginia. A select group of designers and illustrators across the nation were asked to submit portfolios to be judged by their peers and Jerry’s work was among those chosen. Instead of Vietnam, Jerry’s path would take a new direction. He and wife, Patty, would live in historic Alexandria, Virginia for the next two years – fulfilling his commitment to the Army as a graphic designer. While there, Jerry was able to attend painting classes on weekends at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC, take advantage of the cultural environment and work part time at a gallery in Springfield, Virginia. He sold paintings in small shops and at art shows to subsidize their income and would later realize that the cultural exposure and cross training as a graphic designer would alter his future.
In 1973, Jerry and Patty relocated to Wichita Falls, Texas to be closer to family and friends. His first job was setting up an art department for a manufacturing company that had just moved to Wichita Falls. Working as a designer for the next 3 years while continuing to paint and sending paintings back to Virginia proved to be more than a full time job. In 1976, Jerry approached a co-worker with the idea of starting a graphic design business. Graphics II was established in 1976 – the same year that he and Patty had their first child, opened a small antique store and began restoring a historic home. Understandably, spare time became a rare commodity and Jerry’s painting career was put on hold. Jerry made a personal commitment to himself that one day, when the time was right, he would return to his painting career. His journey may have taken another turn, but the dream would not be forgotten.
After 35 years in the Graphic Design and Advertising business, In 2012 Jerry left Graphics II to pursue his career as a painter and a retail business owner. All the years of diverse exposure to design, photography and videography proved to be an invaluable asset to his painting career.
What would life have been like if Jerry’s draft number had not been twelve? It really doesn’t matter. All of the unexpected life experiences have been instrumental in making him the artist he is today. Life has been good to him. And, he’s finally realizing his childhood dream.