Interview of Tom Newby, conducted by Dwight Bowers for the Lemelson Center's "Innovative Lives" Program on August 5, 2006. Newby talks about his work with Jim Henson at the Creature Shops, and his work in motion pictures with animated figures.
Biographical / Historical:
Inventor and designer of toys, games and puppets.
Audio recording created by the Innovative Lives Program of the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, August 5, 2006.
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The Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers measure 1.4 linear feet and 0.035 GB and date from 1910-2006, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1928-1977. Correspondence, writings, drawings, printed and digital material, miscellaneous items and photographs document Mecklem as an artist, muralist and art instructor and Appel as an artist, puppet designer and author and illustrator of children's books. A significant part of Appel's papers consists of drafts of two illustrated children's books.
Scope and Content Note:
The Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers measure 1.4 linear feet and 0.035 GB and date from 1910-2006, with the bulk of materials dating from 1928-1977. Correspondence, writings, drawings, printed and digital material, miscellaneous items and photographs document Mecklem as an artist, 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.
Austin Mecklem's papers include biographical materials, personal and professional correspondence and letters, and printed material from the WPA. Printed material includes newspaper clippings, exhibition catalogs, announcements and press releases, and an article from Fortune Magazine concerning the Coulee Dam, a subject of interest to Mecklem. Digital material consists of "Catalogue Raisonee as of February 2009".
Of particular note are Mecklem's lecture and teaching notes on the "Fundamentals of Art" prepared for his class at the Albright Art School. Also, there are photographs of Mecklem's paintings and murals, including his design for a mural for the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D. C. Original artwork by Mecklem includes the blueprint for the Portland, Connecticut Post Office mural, drawings on tissue paper, a watercolor landscape, and a cartoon entitled "Life at the High."
Appel's papers consist of drafts of children's books, "The Story of Juliet" (1945) and "Perlydew" (after 1953), correspondence, writings, sketches and clippings from the period after Mecklem's death. Correspondence includes personal letters and letters from the Federal Works Agency Public Buildings Administration regarding the Agency's purchase of Appel's artwork. Also found are sketch books and an original watercolor signed by Appel.
Also found are photographs of friends and family as well as photographs of Appel's paintings and puppets she designed. Some photographs of puppets carry notes by Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. Appel's book drafts include manuscripts, both typed and hand-written, with layouts and illustrations in tempera or gouache.
This collection contains scattered notes by the donors which identify or explain materials.
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, ER01; 0.035 GB)
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)
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.
The papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2010 by the artists' daughters, Sarah Greer Mecklem and Merrill Mecklem Piera.
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
The Austin Merrill Mecklem and Marianne Greer Appel papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donors have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
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