Skip to main content

Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers, 1910-2006, bulk 1928-1977

Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers, 1910-2006, bulk 1928-1977

Mecklem, Austin Merrill, 1894-1951

Muralist, Painter

Collection Information

Size: 1.4 linear feet

Summary: The Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers measure 1.4 linear feet and date from 1910-2006, with the bulk of materials dating from 1928-1977. Correspondence, writings, drawings, printed material, miscellaneous items and photographs document Mecklem as an artist, Works Progress Administration (WPA) muralist and art instructor and Appel as an artist, puppet designer and author and illustrator of children's books. A significant portion of Appel's papers consist of drafts of two illustrated children's books, "The Story of Juliet" (1945) and "Perlydew" (after 1953).

Austin Mecklem's papers include biographical materials, personal and professional correspondence, and letters and printed material from the WPA. There are letters from friends and applications for association memberships, teaching positions and a Guggenheim fellowship. Other printed material includes newspaper clippings relating to Mecklem and his work, (some of which also relates to Appel); exhibition catalogs, announcements and press releases; and an article from Fortune Magazine,"Grand Coulee," which concerns the construction of the Coulee Dam, a subject of interest to Mecklem.

Of particular note are Mecklem's hand-written lecture and teaching notes concerning the Fundamentals of Art prepared for his class at the Albright Art School. Also, there are black and white photographs of Mecklem's paintings and murals, including his design for a mural for the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C., which shows "Commander Peary and Matthew Henson at the North Pole, April 6, 1909." Original artwork by Mecklem includes the blueprint for the Portland, Conn. Post Office mural, drawings on tissue paper, a small watercolor landscape and a cartoon drawing in color, "Life at the High."

Appel's papers consist of drafts of children's books, correspondence, writings and sketches, and clippings from the period after Mecklem's death. The correspondence is both personal and professional and includes letters from the Federal Works Agency Public Buildings Administration regarding the Agency's purchase of Appel's artwork and an application for a Guggenheim Fellowship with accompanying references.

Also found are sketch books and an original, signed watercolor by Appel. There are black and white photographs of Appel's paintings, black and white and colored photographs of puppets designed by Appel, and photographs of Appel along side of puppets. Some photographs of puppets carry notes by Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. Also, there is a CD labeled Mecklem "Catalogue Raisonne as of Feb. 2009." Appel's drafts of "The Story of Juliet" written in 1945 include manuscripts, both typed and hand-written, with layouts and illustrations in tempera or gouache. There are sketches and notes for a second children's book, "Polydew," as well as notes and a diagram for a garden.

There is also a collection of black and white photographs of Mecklem and Appel family and friends.

Found with the papers are notes made by the donors to identify or explain materials. These have been kept to augment an understanding of the papers.

Biographical/Historical Note

Austin Merril Mecklem (1894-1951) was a WPA muralist and art instructor in Woodstock, N.Y. 1894-1951. Mecklem was married to painter, illustrator and puppet maker Marianne Greer Appel (1913-1988).

Provenance

Donated 2010 by Sarah Greer Mecklem and Merrill Mecklem Piera, Austin Mecklem's and Marianne Appel's daughters.

A Finding Aid to the Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers,
1910-2006,
bulk 1928-1977
in the Archives of American Art
AAA.meckaust
Biographical Note
Artists Austin Merrill Mecklem "Meck" (1894-1951) and Marianne Greer Appel (1913-1988) married in 1937 and lived and worked in Woodstock, New York as part of the Woodstock artists' colony, Maverick. Mecklem died in 1951 at age 56. In 1953, Appel and her two daughters moved to New York City where she pursued a career as a puppet designer and author and illustrator of children's books. She worked for puppeteer, Bill Baird, and later, Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. Appel married Carl Harms, actor and puppeteer, in 1960.
Both Mecklem and Appel were associated with the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Mecklem received notable commissions from the WPA, including the painting of murals for the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D. C., the Wrangell, Alaska Custom House and Post Office, and the Post Office in Portland, Connecticut. Mecklem also taught art at the Museum School in Portland, Oregon, the Art Students League in New York, the Albright Art School in Buffalo, New York, and the Woodstock School of Painting. Mecklem's work has been exhibited in a number of one-man shows and at major museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Austin Mecklem was born in Califax, Washington and studied at Washington State University, the San Francisco School of Fine Arts, the Art Students League in New York and in Paris and Holland. His first marriage to Hannah Small, also of the Woodstock artist's colony, ended in divorce. In 1906 Appel began her studies at the Woodstock School, where she met Mecklem. Appel's work has been exhibited at museums such as the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as 3 Series. Materials are generally arranged by record type and chronolgically thereafter.
Series 1: Austin Merrill Mecklem papers, 1910-2006 (Boxes 1-2; OV3; 0.9 linear feet)
Series 2: Marianne Greer Appel papers, 1928-2006 (Boxes 1-2; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 3: Family Photographs, 1928-1950 (Box 1; 0.1 linear feet)
Provenance
Donated 2010 by Sarah Greer Mecklem and Merrill Mecklem Piera, Austin Mecklem's and Marianne Appel's daughters.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Harriet E. Shapiro in 2011.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers, 1910-2006, bulk 1928-1977. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

  • No downloads available