Distinguished Alumnus
Charter Class of 2013
Nancie King Mertz

AHS Class of 1970

Arcola is fortunate to have an AHS graduate, Nancie King Mertz, rising to the top of her chosen profession. Recognized as an award-winning artist, many of her works have appeared in both private and corporate collections worldwide.

Nancie was born on October 4, 1952, the oldest child of John and Rosemary “Rodie” VanGundy King. She attended Arcola Elementary and High School graduating in 1970. While in high school Nancie was involved in Pep Club, cheerleading, Chorus, National Honor Society, Arco-Lite, GAA, and was editor of the 1970 Torch. She worked summers in a dress shop and did some contractual painting.

After graduation Nancie enrolled at the University of Illinois where she received a BFA Painting degree and was a James Scholar. She then obtained a Master’s degree in Painting from Eastern Illinois University and was faculty member at Eastern for three years.

Nancie was married to Ron Mertz on December 28, 1974. While a graduate painting student she began a framing company in Arcola, which was moved to Chicago in 1987. About 900 images are reproduced in Giclee prints and fine art cards by Ron at their store. In 2003, they combined Ron’s printing and Nancie’s framing to establish their current gallery in Chicago’s Lincoln Park/Lakeview neighborhood. Producing over one hundred original oils, pastels and watercolors annually, her work has graced magazine covers, catalogs, and has been featured in national art magazines. She has won three prestigious Chicago awards: Woman Entrepreneur of 1999, Small Business 2000 and Business Person of the year 2008.

She has twice been named Chicago “Artist of the Year”. Two times her work has been selected for the 100 Top in America and Mini 50, to travel the country. She was selected as one of twenty artists to participate in “America’s Great Plein air Paint-Out along Florida’s “Forgotten Coast”. The University of Illinois Alumni Center hosted a one-person exhibit of her work in 2008 that was later moved to Chicago Cliff Dwellers Club. Her list of collections and exhibits is endless. She is a Signature Member Pastel Society of America Signature Member of Distinction, Chicago Pastel Painters.

Nancie has offered over sixty one-person shows of her “destination” work. She has traveled to Hong Kong, Singapore, England, Scotland, Wales, Austria, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Mexico, Peru, Bahamas, and throughout the US to paint. In 2008 Nancie traveled to SW China, hiking into remote mountain villages to paint the locals and their daily lives. Her work has been featured on Chicago based TV programs like the Good Wife, Chicago Fire, Boss, Mob Doctor and is also found in many Chicago and suburban hospitals and hotels. In 2011 she was an Artist in Residence for the National Park System.

Nancie serves on many art and philanthropic boards in Chicago. In 2009 she was named by Eastern Illinois University as Distinguished Graduate Alum and sits on the graduate advisory board. Nancie frequently contributes a portion of proceeds from the sale of her art to help support benevolent organizations. These include Make A Wish Foundation, Advocate Illinois Masonic Charitable Council and Open Heart Magic.

The Wall Dogs project in Arcola benefited from Nancie in the summer of 2012. She gave her time, ideas, ability and talent to help make the project a success. She also donated some of her work to raise money for the Wall Dogs. Nancie King Mertz’s excellence as an artist deems her worthy of being named a Distinguished Alumnus of Arcola High School.

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Last Revision November 10, 2017