Howard Schleeter (1903-1976), was the son of a commercial artist, he studied at the
Albright Art School in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. However, his studies at
tAlbright were limited, and the artist considered himself an autodidact. Later, he
encountered Charles Lindbergh while working as an airplane mechanic. However, he
quickly chose to work as a full-time artist, and travelled to New Mexico in 1929. The
subsequent year, he married and permanently settled in New Mexico.
Schleeter studied under Brooks Willis during the 1930’s and produced in several
mediums including gouache, watercolor, oil scratchboard and engraving. The Great
Depression affected Schleeter profoundly-he occasionally found work digging ditches in
order to have food on the dinner table.
In 1936, his found financial success through 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 commussions
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 galelry during 1938 and 1939.
In 1945, the Encyclopedia Brittanica called Schleeter “an artist’s artist”, Schleeter also
recieved local attention when he became one of the first artists chosen by Peter Hurd
and Jane Mabry for his substantial contributions to New Mexico’s art. Schleeter was a
professor at the University of New Mexico in the early 50s.