Frank C. Eckmair

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Frank C. Eckmair (American, 1930-2012) noted artist, printmaker, wood engraver, illustrator and teacher was born June 21, 1930 in Norwich, NY, to parents Frank and Gladys (née Cornwall) Eckmair. He lived most of his life in central New York and spent his early years drawing and working at his father’s hotel in Gilbertsville, a small village in Otsego County, west of Cooperstown. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of Iowa in 1953, where he studied with fine arts with Mauricio Lasansky, who is considered to be the “Father of 20th-Century American Printmaking.” After teaching public school in Otsego County, Eckmair served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea, Japan, and the northwestern United States. After returning from military service, he received a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking from Ohio University in 1962.

During his time at Ohio University, he met and married Leigh Chadwick. While in Ohio, he developed his passion for printmaking and ceramics. In 1963, the couple moved to Buffalo, where Eckmair became a professor at Buffalo State College. From 1963-1995, he was a revered teacher at Buffalo State College, where he influenced a generation of artists, many of whom became close friends. In Buffalo, he was instrumental in establishing Buffalo Prints and Paper. He assisted many other colleges in establishing their own hand made paper mills, widely lecturing and demonstrating the techniques. He was called upon by the Organization of American States to organize a paper mill in Costa Rica, where he also taught the theories and skills to professional artists from 14 member nations.

His work received its earliest recognition through American Associated Artists (AAA), a program founded to market affordable fine art prints to the American public, and was also the recipient of eleven grants and fellowships. Like earlier artists such as Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry, and Thomas Hart Benton, Eckmair created prints of regional landscapes for AAA that had great populist appeal. Most recently, Eckmair's work was showcased in a year long retrospective, one man exhibit at the New York State Museum, "The Landscape of Memory." The show ran from November 19, 2010-October 15, 2011, and was held at the Museum’s Crossroads Gallery.

“Eckmair's command of both media is always present, but he doesn't make a fetish of it - on the contrary, he tends to use only just as much technique as is necessary to get his point across; the rest of his attention goes to making the design just right. This is accomplished through a deceptive ease with the language of shape, color and contrast, and is especially effective in his use of white space.”

Officially retiring from teaching in 1995, Eckmair focused his time on his own "work," continuing to draw, carve, print and exhibit. He was also the artistic director of Birch Book Press since 1997, a publisher of hand-crafted letterpress books and art in Dehli and was responsible for many wood engravings and illustrations in many of their books and publications.

Considered a master of the woodcut, Eckmair created haunting works evoking rural life in upstate New York, and his woodcut Property Line was used to illustrate Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall”, by St. Lawrence Un. Press. His works are in numerous collections to include; the Smithsonian Institute, the Metropolitan, Detroit Museum, Boston Library, the British Museum, Whitney Museum of Art, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Art, Seoul National Museum, Butler Institute of American Art, the Museo de Arte Costarricense, Pushkin Museum, Vatican Library, Glenbow Museum and others around the world, as well as in more than 200 private, college and university collections. He exhibited worldwide at major national and international shows from the United States, to England, Japan, as well as Russia, Korea, Costa Rica and Latvia. He has also had several solo exhibitions in New York City, Ohio and South Carolina, and has won numerous awards & prizes for his work from the Cooperstown Art Association, the Central Illinois Exhibition, the Shelbourne Art Association, the Springfield Art League, and the Huntington 180 Exhibition in West Virginia.

Eckmair died at his home in Gilbertsville, NY, on Sunday, February 12, 2012 at the age of 81. At the time of his death, he was working on several major projects when he wasn't feeding the squirrels or the neighborhood dogs, or having coffee at John's store. He could always be counted on to help out with art work or design projects for school or community organizations.

There is a wonderful video on Youtube from a 2010 interview with Frank C. Eckmair where he explores his background, influences, and how his work interprets the landscape of central New York. Examples of his work from the exhibit “The Landscape of Memory” are featured. Click here.

For additional information on this artist or for other possible examples of his works, please visit the AskArt link

(Rewritten in parts & compiled in parts by Mark Strong of Meibohm Fine Arts, Inc., meibohmfinearts.com, sources: With permission from AskArt.com, biographical information from their research and archives; as well as other sources furnished upon request.)
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