Howard Behling Schleeter (1903 -1976)
Between Showers, 1939
oil on board
16 x 20 inches
21.625 x 25.625 inches framed
dated and signed lower left; dated, titled and signed verso
Howard Schleeter was born in 1903, the son of a commercial artist. He studied formally at the Albright Art School in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. However, his studies at Albright were brief and the artist considered himself to be primarily self-taught. He later met Charles Lindbergh while working as an airplane mechanic. However, he soon chose to make his living entirely as an artist and, in 1929, he traveled to New Mexico. The following year he married and the couple made New Mexico their permanent home.
Schleeter studied under Brooks Willis during the 1930s and worked in several mediums including gouache, watercolor, oil, scratchboard and engraving. The Great Depression took its toll on Schleeter who occasionally found work digging ditches to make ends meet.
In 1936, his financial status greatly improved when he received the first of several commissions from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Though he worked primarily in abstraction, the five murals he completed for a WPA commission in the Melrose Public School library are realistic depictions of the West. He worked on several more New Deal commissions during the years of 1936 and 1942 in locations including Santa Fe, Clayton, and Washington D.C. During this time, Schleeter furthered his income by teaching at a Las Vegas, New Mexico art gallery during 1938 and 1939.
In 1945, the Encyclopedia Britannica referred to Schleeter as “an artist’s artist.” He also received local attention when he became one of the first artists chosen by Peter Hurd and Jane Mabry for his significant contributions to New Mexico’s art. Schleeter taught at the University of New Mexico during 1950-1951 and 1954.
His work has been exhibited at the Kansas Art Institute, 1936-1938; New Mexico State Fair, 1939 (prize); New Mexico Art League, 1939 (prize); Cedar City, New Mexico, 1941-1946; Philadelphia Artist Alliance, 1945 (solo); deYoung Memorial Museum, 1946; Art Institute of Chicago, 1947; Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, 1951 (purchase prize), 1955 (purchase prize); Vienna, Austria, 1952; Guggenheim Museum, 1954; Karlsruhe Museum, Germany, 1955; Stanford University, 1955 (solo); New Mexico Highlands University, 1957 (purchase prize); Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 1958; Swope Art Gallery Works Held: A&M College, New Mexico (mural); Art League of New Mexico; Cedar City Institute of Religion; Encyclopedia Britannica; Miners Hospital, Raton, New Mexico (mural); Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; Research Studio, Maitland, Florida; University of New Mexico.