Howard B. Schleeter
Howard Schleeter, the son of a commercial artist, 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 1930’s 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. Schleeter also taught at the University of New Mexico in 1950 and 1951, and was a member of the Art League of New Mexico.
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.