Friday, November 19, 2010


Laurie Zuckerman's former teacher, Nathan Oliveira, the hugely famous figurative painter from California, passed away a few days ago. The New York Times reported his obituary today. I was shocked and saddened, as Nathan Oliveira was the best teacher and by far the best painter I ever had the opportunity to study with. Oliveira was an art professor at Stanford University. In the summer of 1977, I applied to study with him at the Centrum Foundation in Port Townsend, Washington. I was accepted for this small and exclusive three-week workshop. I had just finished graduate school in painting at the University of Oregon. A huge fan of all the Bay Area Figurative expressionist painters, I was thrilled to have this opportunity to paint alongside Oliveira. He was the nicest, kindest man—fatherly in fact. He was also the most inspiring teacher I had ever worked with. The students lived for three weeks with him, his wife, and young son at Fort Worden State Park in the idyllic World War II army barracks at the beach. Undoubtedly the best teaching experience of my life. My heart goes out to Mr. Oliveira's family.

The following summer I received a scholarship to study with Elaine de Kooning, ex-wife of Willem de Kooning, one of my other most favorite painters. Back at UC Berkeley, my undergraduate alma mater, I studied figure drawing with Elmer Bischoff, another major figure from the Bay Area Figurative group, of which Richard Diebenkorn is the most well-known. Diebenkorn, is most famous for painting the ocean landscape I grew up in in Los Angeles in his renowned "Ocean Park" series. These men were my contemporary heroes.

Read his biography at:


John Seed said...

Laurie, I studied with Oliveira at Stanford in the late 70's and your comments are right on.

Warm, brilliant, empathetic, a great artist and a great man. He had it ALL.

John Seed

J said...

L -

You introduced me to Oliveira's work and so much more. Having them in my life over the years has changed it.

I still look at the paintings on a regular basis. They are a part of me.

If I could, I would thank them . . . but I cannot, so I will thank you instead.