James C. McCormick Papers

Identifier: 2015-05

Scope and Contents

Prior to his donation, Jim worked diligently to organize his papers. Thus, the organization of the collection is based on that order with materials arranged into small groups, represented here as series. With a few exceptions, including some groups that consisted of only one folder and were related to other material directly before or after them, all groups as designated by Jim were maintained.

This collection represents a unique window into the creative workings of a local, well-known Nevada artist. Jim worked and lived in the Reno, Nevada area for over 60 years, creating art and displaying his own work in exhibitions and curating exhibits in a number of gallery and museum spaces. Series 4 (Commercial Art), 7 (Exhibition Curating), 8 (Group Exhibitions), 9 (Solo/Invitational Exhibitions), 12 (Art Workshops and Conferences), 13 (Art Galleries), and 14 (Art Organizations/Museums) all include information gathered and created by Jim for these events. Jim also was an accomplished illustrator, poet, author, and editor. Series 5 (Newspaper Articles), 6 (Publications), 10 (Periodical Articles, Reviews, and Miscellaneous Publications), and 25 ("Mail Side of Jim McCormick") include Jim’s writings as well as collaborative works with other local authors and artists.

Jim's relationships with both his family and local artists are prominent in this collection. Series 19 (Family Residences), 20 (Residences, Jim McCormick), 22 (Friends/Associates), 23 (Handcrafted Holiday Cards), and 24 (McCormick Family Records) all contain documents assembled and received by Jim over the years. Of particular interest are the handcrafted holiday cards that contain many unique creations by Jim, family, and friends. They document his relationships with his family and friends, and frequently recall memories of his growing up and living in Chicago, New York City, Tulsa, and the Reno area. Jim also collected material from his childhood and years at the University of Tulsa; these materials are found in Series 2 (Early Years) and 3 (University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma).

Over the years, Jim was involved with a variety of local organizations, art related and otherwise. Series 14 (Art Organizations/Museums), 15 (Non-art Organizations), 17 (Unitarian Universalist Church), and 18 (Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada) represent Jim’s work with the organizations. Because of the nature of his work, there is a significant amount of overlap with his exhibition/curatorial work. He was a lifelong member of the Unitarian Universalist Church and especially active with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada.


  • 1936-2019


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Biographical Note

Born in Chicago, Illinois on April 23, 1936 to Babette (Roessler) and James C. McCormick, Sr., James C. "Jim" McCormick spent the majority of his childhood in New York City and Tulsa, Oklahoma. He graduated from Will Rogers High School in Tulsa and continued on to college at the University of Tulsa, graduating with his B.A., and then his M.A. in painting and printmaking in 1960. Upon graduation, Jim accepted an art faculty position from Craig Sheppard at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), a position in which he served for 32 years.

During his tenure, Jim worked to create learning opportunities for both his students and family. At UNR, Jim taught classes in printmaking, drawing, visual foundations, art history, papermaking, and other disciplines. To augment their learning, Jim frequently took students on trips to galleries and theaters in London and San Francisco. He was granted three sabbaticals, the first to New York City in 1969, the second in 1981 to Europe for 8 months where he was joined by his children, Theo and Kristin, and the last, spent locally, in 1989. In 1981 after his sabbatical, Jim met his wife, Loretta Terlizzi, at the opening reception for his "Ribbon Series" exhibit. Loretta and Jim were married on November 2, 1984.

The local arts community was exceptional important to Jim. In 1972, Jim found plans in a Whole Earth Catalog for a dome house, which he personally built in Silver City, Nevada, with the assistance of student volunteers. The dome house, now referred to as the “McCormick House,” serves as housing for artists from around the world who have been awarded residencies through the Resident Artist Program, which is directed and funded by Jim’s son, Theo, and his daughter-in-law, Quest, in Silver City. The dome became the largest sculpture of Jim's art career.

Jim served on a number of boards both during his teaching career and after, including the Nevada State Council on the Arts from 1963-1970 and again from 1981-1989, the Black Rock Press Advisory Board, and the Nevada Museum of Art. He received a number of awards over the years, two of which are the University of Nevada Distinguished Teacher Award in 1989 and the 1990 Governor's Art Award.

After retiring from UNR in 1992, Jim devoted himself full-time to the creation and promotion of art in the Reno area as well as working with a variety of non-art community groups, including the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Nevada and the Unitarian Universal Fellowship of Northern Nevada. He worked on numerous local solo exhibitions, group exhibitions, and curatorial efforts. He also illustrated and published a number of books and booklets. Two of those books, 21 and Over and Reliquaire, were with William Fox. Another book, Brushwork Diary, was co-authored by Michael Brodhead.

In his art world, Jim's first love was printmaking, followed by pen and ink sketches from his travels, and intricate collages (he was described as an Exacto knife master). When he elected to close his studio in the early 2010s, he could not bring himself to throw away the brushes and tools that had defined his artistic career. Instead, he gave them away in hope the recipients would continue to create with them. Closing his studio, though, did not stymie his creativity. He started experimenting with photograms, copying leaves and flowers on a standard copy machine at home, as well as writing poetry and short stories. He entered writing contests through the Reno News & Review, winning a first and second prize.

Jim passed away in Reno on April 11, 2017.

[Much of the above information is from Jim McCormick’s obituary, posted on the Reno Gazette Journal website on April 23, 2017.]


8.5 Linear Feet (9 boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



James "Jim" McCormick, a faculty member of the Art Department at University of Nevada, Reno, offered instruction in printmaking, drawing, visual foundations, art history, papermaking and other disciplines. After retiring as Art Department chair in 1992, he continued creating his art full-time. Collection includes art related items created or collected by the donor, mostly during his tenure in UNR Art Department (portfolios, posters, art prints, various artists' work and special editions of book arts books), biographical documents from McCormick's early years (1936-1954), newspaper articles, publications, exhibits (curated, group, invited), articles, travels, art (workshops, conferences, galleries, organizations/museums), UNR material, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada, correspondence, and other miscellaneous personal files and family records.


Arranged in the following series: 1) General; 2) Early Years; 3) University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma; 4) Commercial Art; 5) Newspaper Articles; 6) Publications; 7) Exhibition Curating; 8) Group Exhibitions; 9) Solo/Invitational Exhibitions; 10) Periodical Articles, Reviews, and Miscellaneous Publications; 11) Travel; 12) Art Workshops and Conferences; 13) Art Galleries; 14) Art Organizations/Museums; 15) Non-art Organizations; 16) University of Nevada, Reno; 17) Unitarian Universalist Church; 18) Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Northern Nevada; 19) Family Residences; 20) Residences, Jim McCormick; 21) Awards, Events, and Celebrations; 22) Friends/Associates; 23) Handcrafted Christmas Cards; 24) McCormick Family Records; 25) "Mail Side of Jim McCormick"

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Jim McCormick in two donations, September 2012 and February 2015.

Guide to the James C. McCormick Papers
Jessica Maddox
May 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)