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Nicholas Chaltas

(1910-1998)
American
Born: Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.

Painter, printmaker, and writer Nicholas Chaltas was born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1910 to Greek immigrant parents. He received his early education in Buffalo; New Haven, Conn.; and Athens, Greece before graduating from the law school at the University at Buffalo in 1936, and then was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York and the Federal Courts. During the 1930s he also took classes at the Art Institute of Buffalo and became an early member of the influential Buffalo Print Club, where he often exhibited work and befriended founder Kevin O'Callahan [1]—although both his legal career and his art-making activity were interrupted by World War II. 

From April 1941 (when he was drafted, eight months before Pearl Harbor) through 1946 Chaltas served with military intelligence, the Counter Intelligence Corps, and the army's legal branch, spending his final tour of duty as a Captain in New Delhi, India. "The big 'bonus' of five years soldiering was a complete around-the-world trip," he reflected many decades later.[2]

"After discharge in 1946 I returned to Buffalo for a short time, but after that lengthy military experience my attitudes had changed and I migrated to New York City, eventually serving as one of the secretaries of the Great American Insurance Company," Chaltas wrote in 1989. During this period he took classes with graphic artist Ernest Fiene at the Art Students League of New York. He married Helen Kikis and the couple settled in Rye, N.Y., where they raised two sons. "For several years I commuted daily via train and subway to lower Manhattan, the typical routine of NY suburbanites."

The family eventually relocated to Southern Pines, North Carolina, where he invested in a textile mill. Throughout the remainder of his career and subsequent retirement, Chaltas continued painting and making prints, and was an active member of the arts community in the Sandhills region of North Carolina, contributing a regular column for the local newspaper, The Pilot. He died on March 14, 1998.

 

[1] The Archives at the Burchfield Penney Art Center contains two letters written by Nicholas Chaltas to Kevin O'Callahan in 1941, while Chaltas was stationed in Columbia, South Carolina. 

[2] This and subsequent quotations are excerpted from personal correspondence by Nicholas Chaltas to Nancy Weekley at the Burchfield [Penney] Art Center, May 11, 1989.