his six-decade career, John C. Menihan, was one of the most prominent
and beloved artists in upstate New York. Although he never sought
national or international acclaim, Menihan's work is represented
in the collections of the British Museum in London, the Boston Athenaeum,
the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the New York Public Library,
The Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, and other institutions.
was born in 1908 in Rochester, where his career got off to an early
start. In 1924, while in high school, he designed a cover for Five
O'clock, a magazine published by Rochester journalist Henry Clune.
After attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and graduating
from East High School in Rochester in 1926, Menihan entered the
Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, where
he designed sets, posters, and program covers for the Mask and Wig
the early 1930's, he began to draw portraits of newsmakers for Town
Tidings The Magazine of Western New York and the Rochester
Times Union. Excited by an exhibition of lithographs by Rochester
architect Walter Cassabeer, Menihan acquired a lithographic press
and stones and, in 1934, made the first of two trips to Zena, near
Woodstock, NY, to study with master lithographer Bolton Brown. Brown,
now acknowledged to be among the most important American lithographers
of the 20th century, was described by Menihan as his mentor.In the
late 1930's, Menihan exhibited prints at the Los Angeles Museum
of Fine Art, the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo (now the Albright/Knox),
and the 1939 New York World's Fair.
he gave up art temporarily to work in his family's business making
parachutes during World War II, his activity increased in the mid-1940's. "John C, Menihan, Lithographer" by Norman Kent was published
in American Artist magazine in 1945. In 1947, Menihan won an unprecedented
four First Prizes in oil painting, watercolor, printmaking,
and drawing in the Finger Lakes Exhibition at Rochester's
Memorial Art Gallery.
the 1950's, Menihan taught at the University of Rochester, designed
a children's store for B. Forman Company, and painted portraits
of luminaries such as Frank E. Gannett and , for St. John Fisher
College, Bishop James E. Kearney. Among his liturgical projects,
he created the "St. Jerome" stained glass window in Nazareth
College's Lorette Wilmot Library and a shrine to St. Joseph for
St. Louis Catholic Church in Pittsford, NY.
expanded his media in the 1960's, designing and executing large
relief murals for Xerox Research and Engineering Center, R.T. French
Company, Security Trust Company (112 feet long), and Rochester Telephone
Corporation (a mural now located at Rochester Institute of Technology's
National Technical Institute for the Deaf).
the 1970's, Menihan created a relief sculpture, "Our Lady of
the Grapes," for St.Januarius Church in Naples, NY, and a triptych
depicting the life of St. Elizabeth Seton for St.Thomas the Apostle
Church in Irondequoit, NY, Exhibitions of his work mounted in the
1980's included a retrospective at Nazareth College and "John
C, Menihan: Prints from the 30's and 40's" at the Memorial
Art Gallery (1988).
Menihan died at his Rochester home in September 1992. His wife, Margaret
Hickey Menihan, whom he married in 1936, passed away in August 1998.
They are survived by
one daughter, Mary of Ancaster, Ontario, and three sons: John, jr. of Rochester, NY, Tom of Boston, MA,
and Peter of Mission Hills, KS.
is Chair of the Nazereth College Fine Arts Department
in Rochester, NY