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FEATURE FRIDAY: Nickels art exhibit is part of MAC fundraiser

Story by Susan Campbell, Thunder Radio

Many residents of Manchester know Bill Nickels as a city alderman, former vice mayor and business owner. But many may not know that Nickels is also an accomplished painter and sculptor, with shows in area galleries.

In November, Nickels’ work will be the centerpiece of a Manchester Arts Center (MAC) fundraiser entitled “Bill Nickels in the Black Box.” The event is set for 7-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, in the lobby of the MAC, located at 104 E. Main St. in downtown Manchester.

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The wine and cheese event will be the culmination of a major telephone campaign to solicit donations to MAC to help keep the doors open during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Board President Doug Spangler. Local actors and other volunteers will be contacting local businesses and patrons over the next few weeks in hopes of raising $10,000. Donors will then be invited to the art show.

Nickels, a Manchester native, creates photobooks, drawings and sculpture, much of which is stored in his downtown office. His work is also on semi-permanent display at the MAC, and recently he held a show at the Tullahoma Fine Arts Center.

According to Nickels, several of the paintings depict one landscape originally created in 1993.

“Instead of figuring out a style that I had and going out to find different landscapes to paint, I tried to use the same landscape and do it differently each time,” he said. “I’ve made hundreds of them and been successful five times.”

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Nickels said he works on his art every day, engages with other artists and tries to keep up with what’s going on in the art work. He was also instrumental in the introducing the work of Manchester artist Willard Hill to art galleries around the world. Hill’s mixed media sculptures have been featured in galleries such as the Good Luck Gallery in Los Angeles.
Nickels grew up on West Poplar Street in Manchester, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from ETSU in 1986. He is the owner Bill Nickels Insurance LLC at 107 E. McLean St. Growing up on West Poplar Street is even the subject of one of his landscapes.

“One painting has the story of being from West Poplar Street on it,” he said. “This one I painted and let the rain fall on it and then painted on it some more and wrote the story on top of it.”

In conjunction with the fundraiser, Nickels had a print made of a drawing and will raffle it off to everyone who donates $20 to the art center. MAC is experiencing a $20,000 shortfall this year.

For more information on the telethon, the art show or upcoming shows, visit the website at

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The Manchester Arts Center is preparing for an exhibit of the work of local artist Bill Nickels, set for 7-9 p.m. Nov. 20. The wine and cheese event will be the culmination of a fundraising telethon in which the board hopes to raise $10,000 to offset the center’s 2020 deficit due to Covid-19.

Local artist Bill Nickels created “Still Life with Stick In it” by drawing on 48 sheets of medium-density fiberboard, cutting it out with a jigsaw and then painting it.

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