By: Duane Blankenship | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: January 2016
Sculptor J. David Nunneley, with his current in-progress monument sculpture of Sequoyah, entitled “The Greatest of His Race.” The piece is commissioned by Gilcrease Museum and will reach its final destination at the museum sometime in late 2016.
Well-known Broken Arrow sculptor J. David Nunneley began his journey into the art world as an art student at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa. His first job was that of a professional illustrator for a scientific instrument company. Nunneley spent several years illustrating oil and gas field instruments prior to opening his own business. During his career, he started and sold two companies (an instrument controls company and a compressor company) and then served as vice president of R&D, a Tulsa-based instrument company where he was granted five U.S. patents for oil and gas related products.
At age 65, after selling his company, Wellhead Compressors Inc., Nunneley retired from business and took advanced studies in figurative sculpture at the Scottsdale Academy of Art. He subsequently dedicated himself to becoming a full-time sculptor.
“I know I am a better artist today,” says Nunneley, “because of my varied life experiences.” In 2001, Nunneley submitted a bronze concept piece, “Pioneer Family,” for the Broken Arrow Arrow Centennial monument. This was his first major sculpture commission.Nunneley has received nearly 30 commissions for monuments since becoming a sculptor. Some of his works include three pieces at West Point Military Academy, works at Tulsa Municipal Airport, an eagle for the Indian Nations Boy Scouts of America, and Colonel Ernest Childers and Major Hank Miesner, Jr., both displayed at Broken Arrow’s Military Park. One of his most popular pieces is the U.S. Army Mule, Hannibal, with a cadet rider, located at the entrance of West Point Military Academy.
Commissioned by Gilcrease Museum, his current monument-in-progress is that of Sequoyah, entitled “Greatest of His Race.” Nunneley says there is actually more that is not known about Sequoyah than is known about him. Sequoyah has been recognized as the greatest of his tribe for his creation of the Cherokee Alphabet, or Syllabary, which enabled the Cherokee people to communicate in writing and record their history.
Some things known about Sequoyah from people who actually met with him include the following: Sequoyah carried a leather tobacco pouch and knife at his waist; the handle of his knife was rough hewn; he wore center seam moccasins and a calico shirt; he carried a walking stick, wore a turban, and was always smoking his pipe. Sequoyah walked with a limp, but no one knew for sure what had caused it, how long he had had the affliction, or which leg was affected. All of these documented details are included in Nunneley’s sculpture.
J. David Nunneley’s beautiful and meaningful art is seen throughout Oklahoma and the Midwest, in other parts of the United States, and in Canada and Mexico. When you’re visiting the Rose District in Downtown Broken Arrow, stop by the J. David Nunneley Studio, located just east of Main on Dallas.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.
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