Frank Nelson Wilcox (1887-1964) was a native Clevelander who was as interested in history as he was in art. He believed that all art was an emotional experience, and that the forms in nature must be interpreted rather than copied. A prolific student, artist, and long-time professor at the Cleveland School of Art, Wilcox left behind a rich treasure trove of artwork that reflects the history of Cleveland, the Northeast Ohio region, and other parts of the country and world he traveled during his lifetime. A comprehensive exhibition of his work, Frank N. Wilcox: Artist as Historian will open at the Cleveland History Center on Friday, November 27, 2015.
Frank N. Wilcox: Artist as Historian is an exhibition on Wilcox’s work relating to the history of Cleveland and its surrounding Ohio environs. “His work is not like a detailed photographic record of places in time, but an interpretation of places, people and events by a skilled draftsman with a wonderful sense of design and understanding of all of its elements,” says William G. Scheele, exhibit curator.
Wilcox began teaching at the Cleveland School of Art in 1913, after spending time in Europe following his graduation from the school in 1910. He taught design, drawing, painting and printmaking for 44 years and was known as the “Dean of Cleveland School Painters.” As a teacher, Wilcox used his vacation time to travel extensively throughout the United States, Europe and parts of Canada. As a passenger, since he never learned to drive, Wilcox was able to sketch endlessly during his travels, becoming a chronicler of all he saw.
The art collection for the exhibition collaboratively comes together from the Western Reserve Historical Society, Jones Day Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the private Wilcox Family Archives. This will be the first time that many pieces will be available to the public.
Frank Wilcox came from a large family with New England ancestry on both sides, all of whom played a significant role in settling Ohio’s Western Reserve. The Wilcox and Snow families offered young Frank exposure to both city and country life, which is reflected in his work and in family photographs. A companion gallery will illustrate the rich Wilcox and Snow family history and take a look at Frank Wilcox, the man.
“We are pleased to make the connection of art to history to genealogy,” says Angie Lowrie, Director of the Cleveland History Center. “It is an exhibit trifecta.”
Frank N. Wilcox: Artist as Historian is presented at the Cleveland History Center, through the generous support from the Elizabeth Ring Mather and William Gwinn Mather Fund, Ms. Caroline Butler, Mr. Thomas H. Horner and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Waldman. The exhibition will be open November 27, 2015 through April 30, 2016 at the Cleveland History Center in University Circle at 10825 East Boulevard. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday noon to 5:00 pm. Admission is $10 adults; $9 seniors (age 62+); $5.00 students (age 3-12). WRHS members and children 2 & under receive free admission. Group rates are available. For information call 216-721-5722 or visit www.wrhs.org.