Nevin O’Driscoll Littlehale
Nevin O’Driscoll Littlehale passed away in Los Angeles, CA on December 14, 2022. Born at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio on July 30, 1967, Nevin was the fourth child of Robert F. Littlehale and Marie W. Littlehale’s five children. In contrast to his siblings, his light hair and eyes made him “the new kid on the block.” His active imagination and mischief were never in short supply. Irving-the-cat and his trimmed whiskers understood the latter and his mother understood the former. For when she would call for Nevin to come, she was told, “I am not Nevin. I am Christopher Robin. Please wait.” He would then unzip himself, starting at the top of his head and carefully trace down each leg until “Nevin” once again emerged. She was very patient.
Nevin’s love for figurative art and drawing was apparent at an early age. As an elementary school student in Newton, Massachusetts, he spent time collecting comic books and sketching characters. When he entered Lunenburg High School, he began exploring sculpting, casting, and the various properties of each medium. After graduation in 1985, Nevin delved into his craft while studying at Syracuse University under the tutelage of Professor Roger Mack who he fondly referred to as “Maestro.” After graduating in 1989, Maestro’s mentorship helped Nevin begin his next journey in New York City working at Manhattan Molds.
While in New York City, Nevin worked on historic brownstone buildings resorting ornate facades which included gargoyles and other complicated patterns. Nevin developed a deep respect for the fine craftmanship, artistry, and casting process as he restored the artists’ original designs. It was here that he began to study Italian, with a bike trip through Europe that culminated in his first move to Italy in 1992.
Nevin settled in Forte de Marme, Italy where he was embraced by Sylvano Gotti’s and Fleur Palau’s families. There he continued to study Italian while learning to sculpt from marble master Sauro. Sculpting at Studio Leonardi in Pietrasanta meant chiseling Carrara marble taken from the same quarry where Michelangelo’s “David” was cut. Some of Nevin’s most notable marble sculptures were “The Dance of Salome” and “La Notte”. These helped Nevin to enter the New York Academy of Fine art where he created “Elements” as his Master’s graduation piece in 2000. He then taught there until returning to Italy where he continued to sculpt and exhibit his art.
Back in the United States from 2004, Nevin learned and improved his clay and wax sculpting, casting, and metal techniques which came to be a large part of his final artistic repertoire. Whether teaching bronze casting at Santa Barbara City College, working in community projects like Santa Barbara Beautiful and the Arts Fund Teen Mentorship program, creating private and public commissions, or working at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art during their renovations, Nevin was deeply interested in three dimensional forms and what those forms portrayed. His work spanned from the beautiful and sweet to the macabre, much like his life did. Witnessing his friend Steve’s death in high school and then 9-11 while living in New York, Nevin was familiar with the dark side and was unafraid to explore it. “Holocaust” and “Post Modern Stress Disorder” being examples of this, while his lighter side and understanding of duality were displayed in the “Rose and Thorn” series.
Nevin also took quality seriously and learned the importance of safety when creating. When visiting his sister in Japan, he was often seen taking pictures of the construction sites, awestruck by the safety precautions being followed. “You don’t see that in the US, man. Woohoo. Look at them!” he would say. And as head of quality control at Polich Tallix in Rock Tavern, New York, quality was his job, stamping “Nevin QC” onto the bottom of every Oscar award made during his tenure there.
Quality control and art didn’t stop at work either. Nevin took cooking to an artistic level, even being caught saying, “I’m finding my aesthetic” when plating his incredible Italian meals with layered flavors– the final one being freshly chopped garlic and herbs. Perhaps nothing pleased him more than cooking for those he loved, though it is hard to say as he showed his love in so many ways.
Yes, it was his caring for and want to honor others that stands out. His support for his three nephews and consistent communication with his two nieces and siblings especially illustrates this. First, the sculpture “Motherhood” outside the Holidaysburg Public Library in Pennsylvania is where his art and love for his mother coalesced to honor her while helping his nephew Zachary Littlehale become an Eagle Scout. And while Nevin was never a parent in-full, he was like a father to his California nephews, Ian and Julian, who he nurtured from adolescence and ALWAYS showed up for. His brother Todd says, “We made one hell of a father.” Be it driving an extra hundred miles to keep his sister company for a night in PA or calling her every single day of her four-month hospital stay, Nevin showed up. Without question, Nevin was there to help his oldest brother Bob shore up his house’s foundation and was always there to push brother Brian’s last nerve. We will all miss his emoji texts and links to songs he was moved to share.
Finally, Nevin was PJ Mansur’s caregiver, the mother of his partner Phebe Mansur, two women he loved very much and regrettably left behind.
Preceded by his mother, Marie W. Littlehale, Nevin leaves his father, Robert (Iowa City), older brothers, Bob (Syracuse, NY), Todd (Iowa/Nebraska), and Brian (Hollidaysburg, PA), his little sister, Catherine Oki (Kyoto, Japan), and his half-brother Griffith Robert (Ohio). He was the very proud “Nuncle” to his nephews Ian Littlehale Otobe (Tokyo, Japan), Julian Littlehale (Los Angeles), and Zachary Littlehale (PA) and his nieces Alexandria Littlehale (PA) and Lily Oki (Kyoto). He was also the great nuncle to three boys, Walker and Kase Lehman (PA) and Luca Otobe (Tokyo). His extended family includes, his Aunt Lesley L. Poisson (Salem, MA), Uncle Albert White (Beeville, TX), sister-in law Joan (Syracuse), brother-in-law Hiroshi Oki (Kyoto), former sisters-in-law, Kathryn Legros (Santa Barbara) and Karen Littlehale (PA), and his niece-in-law Kilala Otobe (Tokyo).
Nevin’s earlier pieces mentioned here can be seen at nevinsart.com and donations can be made in his name to Santa Barbara Beautiful.
Celebrations of life will be held for Nevin in Santa Barbara in February and in Massachusetts in May. For information, please see the event page https://www.facebook.com/events/836908160710833