Major Influence | City Celebrates Nelbert Chouinard Day

The gravity and knowledge of Nelbert Chouinard and her school would come to influence every West Coast art-related movement

PHOTO: City Photo | News | Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian, left, presented a proclamation to Doris Koylias and Nancy Armitage, declaring Feb. 9 as “Nelbert Chouinard Day” in the city. Koylias and Armitage represent the Chouinard Arts Institute.

South Pasadena Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian, on behalf of the City Council, presented Nancy Armitage, representing the Nelbert Chouinard Arts Institute, with a proclamation during Wednesday’s City Council meeting declaring February 9 as Nelbert Chouinard Day in the city.

Nelbertina (Nelbert) Murphy Chouinard, a graduate of fine art from the Pratt Institute in New York, moved to South Pasadena with a new vision of art after the passing of her husband, Horace Chouinard, in World War II.

While building the legendary art education empire known ultimately as the Chouinard Art Institute, Nelbert lived in the home of Dr. Lee Murphy, her father, built in 1907 on Garfield Avenue in South Pasadena, now known as “The Chouinard House,” a South Pasadena landmark. Nelbert’s art education principles would impact more than 50,000 students, many of whom would go on to become cultural leaders in numerous art-related fields.

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David and Linda Tourje | Nelbert Chouinard

She would train each of Walt Disney’s early animators, leading a lifelong collaboration with him, ultimately leading to both the salvation of her institute in 1955, and transition of the Chouinard Art Institute in 1972 into what is now the influential California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).

The Chouinard Foundation partnered with the South Pasadena Public Library and the Friends of the Library on March 12, 2014 to present a full house, standing room only public celebration of the lasting legacy of Nelbert Chouinard, which featured a panel discussion of renowned graduates of Chouinard Art Institute and a screening of “Curly” about a young inner city artist who benefited from support by the Chouinard Foundation.

February 9 was declared “Nelbert Chouinard Day” South Pasadena.