Dale Nichols: War in the Corn

Just weeks after the U.S. dropped a bomb on Hiroshima, effectively ending the Second World War, TIME Magazine reported on another war going on in Nebraska: War in the Corn. The August 20, 1945 issue of TIME  contained articles about the Atomic Age and the end of the World War and an article in the Art Section called War in the Corn, which began:

One fertile undulating corner of Nebraska last week produced a bumper crop of artistic excitement. David City and Shelby —18 miles apart—were each sporting a one-man painting exhibition by a native son.


Both shows, first ever staged in these Nebraska towns, were smash hits. They were also too coincidental for comfort. Almost before the ink was dry on the invitations, Shelbyans and David Cityans were hopping mad at each other. There was even talk of letting the artists settle their differences with pitchforks.

The TIME article was inspired by a story in the Omaha World-Herald about the rivalry between the two artists: Dale Nichols and Terence Duren.


Worthy Rivals: Dale Nichols and Terence Duren

Both Dale Nichols and Terence Duren were born in Nebraska and spent much of their careers painting the Nebraska landscape.


They both found their calling as artists when they were very young. They both attended the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1920s, played piano, loved Jazz, painted in Guatemala and had their work hung in Grand Central Station. They both taught art at institutions of higher learning, both traveled widely and had careers in commercial art. Duren never married. Nichols married five times.


Their rivalry, which took the form of verbal sparring, came about when they held competing shows at the same time. The magazine quoted parts of the feud:

Nichols: I shall never be guilty of painting in the style of viewpoint of Terence Duren. Never! Never!

Duren: I concur heartily: Mr. Nichols will never draw or paint like I do. Never!

The feud, and its publicity, benefitted both artists and is currently the subject of an exhibit at the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art in David City, Nebraska. Worthy Rivals: Dale Nichols and Terence Duren showcases the work and lives of the two artists.


An accompanying bookWorthy Rivals: Dale Nichols and Terence Duren was put together by Cole Sartore, who curated the exhibit for Bone Creek’s Tenth Anniversary. The show runs through the end of this month.


Dale Nichols Paintings at the Surovek Gallery

Please contact us if you would like more information about the work of Dale Nichols or any of the other fine regional artists available at the Surovek Gallery.



Cindy Lange-Kubick. War in the corn and then a truce — the art of two small-town Nebraskans. Lincoln Journal Star. September 1, 2018.
September 20, 2018
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