John Nichols of Santa Paula, Calif. began writing essays for local newspapers in 1990 and over the years branched out into magazine articles for Edible Ojai and Ventura County, photography magazines, exhibit catalogs and ghost stories for an annual theatrical event called Ghostwalk. After over 25 years of writing the results are assembled into his fourth book “Essay Man: Selected Essays and Writings”.
As an independent curator and photo historian he developed several exhibits on the St. Francis Dam Disaster of 1928 for the California Oil Museum. All that research led to his first book in 2002 for Arcadia titled St. Francis Dam Disaster. Another exhibit he co-curated with local painter Gail Pidduck led to the publication of the book “Santa Paula Portrait Project, Paintings by Gail Pidduck and Photographs by John Nichols”. http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/544523.
As a gallery owner and dealer in vintage photographs he also publshed “Mexico, 1895 A Vernacular Album” http://www.blurb.com/b/3273296-mexico-1895-a-vernacular-album
John Nichols was a black and white darkroom photographer for over 35 years. In 2002 he made the leap to both color photography and digital printing. The darkroom is now a wine cellar and he now prints both grayscale and color on paper and canvas using state of the art digital printers using archival pigmented inks.
In 2010 John was selected to be interviewed and documented by Focus on the Masters. Focus on the Masters is a non-profit art appreciation program that documents, preserves and presents the works and lives of accomplished contemporary artists. Their archive includes oral histories, video taped interviews, photographic portraits and examples of the artists’ work.
Photographs by John Nichols are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Ventura County, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Univ. of Austin, Texas, the Jackson Wheeler Collection (promised gift to the Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard), The Santa Paula Art Museum, the City of Ventura, the Community Memorial Hospital of San Buenaventura and numerous private collections. Selected exhibits include the Santa Paula Art Museum, the California Oil Museum, the Museum of Ventura County, Ojai Art Center, Ojai Valley Museum, Annual Santa Paula Art and Photography Show, Carnegie Art Museum and others.
He currently serves on the board of directors of the Santa Paula Art Museum. He has served on the board of directors of the Museum of Ventura County as well as chairing the Fine Arts Committee at the museum. He has been a board member of the Rotary Club of Santa Paula, President of the Santa Paula Historical Society and President of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Santa Paula. He has been named Rotarian of the Year and Business of the Year by the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce.
In 1984 he opened John Nichols Gallery.com in historic downtown Santa Paula to exhibit and promote vintage and contemporary photography and art. He has curated numerous art and history exhibits throughout Ventura County. He has judged cookies at the Ventura County Fair for over 30 years. In 1974 he joined the stage crew at the Monterey Jazz Festival and is currently the stage manager of the Garden Stage.
For several years he has been collaborating with Gail Pidduck to produce art about agriculture. That lead to the development of the Ag Art Alliance to further promote exhibits and workshops for artists. The Art About Agriculture exhibit at the Santa Paula Art Museum has become a popular annual exhibit drawing artists from throughout the United States.