Jack L. Meanwell



(b. February 6, 1919, Winnipeg, Canada; d. June 7, 2005, Cincinnati, OH).

John Leonard Meanwell, commonly know as Jack, was the son of Leonard William and Mary Eleanor Jenkins Meanwell. His father was an architect born in Rugby, England, who immigrated to western Canada. A search for work in his field lead his father to moved the family to Windsor, Ontario. There he began a career at Albert Kuhn, the internationally acclaimed architectural firm across the river in Detroit, MI. Artistic sensibility ran in the family and Jack shared his father’s talents, as well as an interest in painting shared by his mother, aunt, and grandfather. He began his study of art with figure drawing in high school and received further training in Detroit at Meinzinger School of Art and at the Society of Arts and Crafts.

During the Depression Meanwell enrolled in technical school to learn commercial art. When World War II started, he enlisted in the Essex Scottish Infantry. He stayed a month before deciding to join the Royal Canadian Air Force, where for four years he was an aircrew radar instructor. Meanwell married Marjory Wallingford, of Fort Mitchell, in Windsor, Canada on June 27, 1942. He and Marjory met during her visit to McGregor Bay, Canada, with her neighbors. At that time, Meanwell worked on the McGregor Bay mail boat for his aunt who ran the store and the post office.

In 1945 Meanwell began working on advertising art for Chrysler and Ford at the Greenhow Art Studios in Windsor, Canada. He found the technicality of commercial art stifling so he moved to the Cincinnati area in 1947.

He took up residence in Northern Kentucky with his wife and young son, living with Marjory’s parents in Fort Mitchell. Soon after, he took over half of the Wallingford Coffee business from Marjory’s father. They eventually, moved to Erlanger, KY and then much later to Southgate, KY where they lived until the early 1980s.

In 1972, Meanwell sold his share of the Wallingford Coffee Company in order to focus on his painting. In 1976 he started teaching at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he continued for the next 25 years. Meanwell also accepted a teaching position at Northern Kentucky University in 1979. After his divorce from Marjorie, Meanwell was married two more times, the last time to Mary Ann Shaffer. He maintained an art studio for about 25 years at Elmwood Hall, in Ludlow.

Most of his summers were spent in McGregor Bay, Canada, where he found inspiration for his landscapes in the rugged wilderness. His parents and grandparents summered there and eventually, Jack bought his own island in the same area and returned year after year to his second home there.

As Meanwell became one of Cincinnati’s most accomplished modern painters, his works were shown at almost 100 art exhibits and galleries in the region, beginning in 1969. He also had occasional exhibits in New York City, Chicago, Toronto, and Windsor.

Meanwell exhibited at the Governors’ mansions in Ohio in 1974 and Kentucky in 1979. He was included in the Cincinnati Art Museum’s traveling exhibition, as well as its Invitational in 1981.  Merida Galleries in Louisville hosted Meanwell in 1977, 1979, and 1982. One of his earliest one-man shows was in 1979 at Shaw Rimmington Gallery in Toronto. In February 1981 the Gallery at Ohio University, Landcaster, featured an exhibit of his watercolors. In 1983 he was one of fewer than 20 artists selected to show work in “Kentucky Revisited, 1983” in Frankfort.

By 1984 Meanwell’s reputation prompted an interview by the Cincinnati Enquirer art critic Owen Findsen. The interview focused on Canada’s group of Seven show a the Cincinnati Art Museum, as well as Meanwell’s paintings were “charged with color and energy” and had “a freedom that is far beyond the Group of Seven.” In 2001 the curator of collections at the Miami University Art Museum, Edna Sourthard, described the Meanwell works exhibited there as “dramatic landscapes and figures painted with bright bold colors and energetic brushstrokes.” She added, “The bright, abstract images are infused with power and originality.”

Closson’s Gallery represented Meanwell throughout much of his career. In 1979 one of Closson’s early Meanwell shows was described as “forceful art for a vast landscape” by art critic Findsen. Closson’s held multiple exhibits of Meanwell’s work at its downtown Cincinnati location. On February 3, 1996, Closson’s opened “25 Years with Jack Meanwell” in downtown Cincinnati; the exhibit was shown at their second gallery in Kenwood on March 28th of the same year.

In February 2001 the Art Academy of Cincinnati held a retirement party for Meanwell and presented him with an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts degree. In 2001, the Mary Ran Gallery presented a major exhibit with forty of Meanwell’s strongest paintings at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In 2004 the Ran Gallery presented Meanwell’s last exhibit while he was alive. The subjects of the images were the familiar female figure, landscapes, and florals that were so representative of his abstract expressionist work during the last 25 years of his life. He died on June 7, 2005. Meanwell’s work has been included in numerous corporate, institutional, and private collections such as Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Bell, American Financial, Western and Southern Life, Marietta College, the University of Windsor.



Meanwell Resume 1982


Jack Meanwell, a native of Canada, now residing in Northern Kentucky, part-time instructor in drawing and painting at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, is represented by galleries in Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Columbus, Windsor, and Toronto.



Detroit Art Academy                            1937

Meinzinger Art School                         1938-39

Society of Arts and Crafts                    1940

Cass Technical School                          1941

(all of Detroit, MI)


One Man Shows

Cincinnati Art Club                               1967, 70, 72

University Club                                     1968

Cincinnati Town Club                           1972

Second Federal Savings & Loan       1972

Covington, KY

Erlanger Women’s Club                        1972

Covington, KY

Frame House Gallery                             1972, 75

Louisville, KY

Edgecliff College                                    1975


Chatfield College                                    1976

St. Martin, OH

Carnegie Art Center                                 1977

Covington, KY

Miami University                                    1977

Middletown, Ohio

Montgomery Company                            1977

Administration Building

Dayton, OH

Ursuline Academy                                   1977


Paducah Art Guild                                   1977

Paducah, KY

Merida Gallery                                         1977

Louisville, KY                                          1979


A. B. Closson Gallery                              1979

Cincinnati, OH                                         1981


Shaw Rimmington Gallery                       1979

Toronto, Canada

School for Creative                                  1979

and Performing Arts

Cincinnati, OH

Northern Kentucky University             1980

Highland Heights, KY

The Depot                                                 1982

Athens, OH


Two/Three Man Shows                   

Cincinnati Art Club                                  1974

(Joe Peter, Jack Meanwell)                       1976


College of Mt. St. Joseph                        1977


(Walter Driesbach, Gerald McDowell)


Windsor Art Gallery                                 1977

Windsor, Ontario

(Ted Hodgkinson, Jack Meanwell)


WCET Gallery                                           1978

Cincinnati, OH

(Joe Peter, Mary Ann Butkovitch, Jack Meanwell)


Ohio University                                         1981

“Directions in Watercolor”

Lancaster, OH

(Ruth Wagner, Marilyn Phillis, Jack Meanwell)


Juried Shows

Zoo Arts Festival                                          1969

Cincinnati, OH                                              1970



Ft. Thomas Women’s Club                            1969

Ft. Thomas, KY                                             1970 – First Prize


American Watercolor Society                       1969

Annual Competition                                      1970

New York, NY                                               1974


Tippecanoe Biennial                                      1969

Lafayette, IN                                                  1970



Mainstreams International                             1970 – Honorable Mention

Marietta, OH                                                  1971 – Award for Excellence

                                                                        1973 – Purchase Award



Cincinnati Art Museum Biennial                    1970

Harvest Home Fair                                          1970 – First prize

Cincinnati, OH                                                1971 – First prize


Summit Showcase                                          1971


                                                                        1974 – Honorable Mention


Arts Festival                                                   1972

Windsor, Ontario                                            1973


Viewpoint                                                       1974 – Honorable Mention

Cincinnati, OH                                               1975

Dayton Collection ’76                                    1976

All Kentucky Drawings                                  1979

Lexington, KY

Arts Consortium                                             1980

Cincinnati, OH


Invitational Shows

All Ohio Watercolor                                       1971

Marietta College

Marietta, OH

Xavier University Arts Festival                 1972

Cincinnati, OH

Big Show of Little Paintings                        1973

Frame House Gallery,

Louisville, KY

Art in the Park                                              1974

Windsor, Ontario

Bardstown Invitational                                 1974 – Three Purchase Awards

Bardstown, KY                                             1975

Governor’s Mansion                                     1974

Columbus, OH

Central Ohio Watercolor Society              1975

Capital University

Columbus, OH

Phelps Dodge Kentuckiana Show            1975

Elizabethtown, KY

Fence Art Happening                                   1977 – First Place

Derby Day Festival

Louisville, KY

Cincinnati Art Museum Invitational             1977

Photography and Watercolor

Cincinnati, OH

J. B. Speed Art Museum                               1977

Watercolor Show

Louisville, KY

Contemporary Watercolors                            1977

College of Mt. St. Joseph

Cincinnati, OH

Four Watercolorists                                         1977

Merida Gallery

Louisville, KY

Marks on Paper                                              1978

Carnegie Art Center

Covington, KY

Art Faculty Show                                            1979

Northern Kentucky University

Highland Heights, KY

Govenor’s Mansion                                        1979

Frankfort, KY

Cincinnati Art Museum                                 1981

Invitational Exhibit

Contemporary Landscape                             1981

College of Mt. St. Joseph

Cincinnati Art Museum                                1981

Travelling Exhibition

Ohio Foundation for the Arts


Permanent and Corporate Collections

University of Windsor                        Windsor, Ontario

Windsor Art Gallery                           Windsor, Ontario

Marietta College                                 Marietta, OH

Bardstown Art Gallery                       Bardstown, KY

St. George’s Hospital                         Cincinnati, OH

Western Southern Life                       Cincinnati, OH

Lawwill, Sena, and Weller                 Cincinnati, OH

Erlanger Library                                 Erlanger, KY

Citizen’s Fidelity Trust Company      Louisville, KY

Jewish Hospital                                  Cincinnati, OH

Bell Telephone Company                   Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati Safe Deposit Company     Cincinnati, OH