1887 – 1964
Known as the Dean of "Cleveland School" painters.
Frank Wilcox was born and raised in Cleveland and graduated from the Cleveland School of Art in 1910. Immediately after graduation he left for Paris and studied at the Academie Callorossi. During this period he came under the powerful influence of French impressionism. In 1913 he joined the staff of the Cleveland School of Art, where he taught design, drawing, painting and printmaking for 44 years. He was also on the faculty of John Huntington Polytechnic from 1918 through 1953.
Wilcox belonged to local and national watercolor societies, and exhibited regularly at the Cleveland Museum of Art's annual May Show where he took numerous prizes for painting and printmaking. He worked summers with Henry Keller in the country around Berlin Heights, teaching students the "plein air" approach to painting. He believed that all art is an emotional experience, and that the forms in nature must be interpreted rather than copied. With his quick approach to rendering, Wilcox thrived in the medium of watercolor painting. He mentioned, "I have usually practiced transparent watercolor since it seems to afford the readiest interpretation of the fleeting effects of light during the day and season. However, when employing opaque mediums, I have always tried to combine the handling of it with the transparent so that architecture and figures are tied in with a freely treated landscape."
Throughout his life, Wilcox traveled whenever he could, to Europe in 1910, 1914 and 1926, to the Gaspe peninsula in Canada, and across the United States. Ohio consistently captured his imagination and provided inspiration for his first book Ohio Indian Trails, which was on the New York Times bestseller list beginning in 1933. Wilcox also published a limited edition book called Weather Wisdom, which was filled with early recollections and monoprints on the subject of the shifting weather patterns with the changing seasons. Ohio Canals, a book documenting the extensive canal system of Ohio with paintings and illustrations, was published posthumously.
During the last phase of his life from the mid-fifties through the mid-sixties, Wilcox created numerous impressionistic watercolors recalling early childhood memories of the Ohio countryside and the young and prosperous industrial Cleveland. Norman Kent, editor of American Artist magazine, aptly named these the "Little-Big" watercolors for their small size and large stature.