The papers of Fred Mitchell, 1938-2007, measure 14.3 linear feet. Correspondence, writings, 29 diaries, and subject files, document his personal life and career as a painter and educator in New York City. The papers also include biographical materials, artwork, sketchbooks, printed material, and photographs.
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Fred Mitchell, 1938-2007, measure 14.3 liner feet. Correspondence, writings, 29 diaries, and subject files document his personal life and career as a painter and educator in New York City. The papers also include biographical materials, artwork, sketchbooks, printed material, and photographs.
Among the biographical materials are biographical notes, military records, passports, and resumes. Correspondence includes both professional and personal letters. Correspondents include friends, former students, colleagues, and individuals of romantic interest.
Writings by Mitchell include notebooks containing names and addresses, appointments, lists and a variety of notes. Diaries record Mitchell's personal and professional activities, plans, aspirations, and memories; also, many volumes contain loose items such as printed material, drawings, notes and letters. Other authors represented are Harry Hope Reed, Peter Rooney, and Patrick Rucker.
Subject files maintained by Mitchell concern friends, teaching activities, exhibitions; also, interests in art, dance, poetry, and music. Files on the Mitchell family concern four generations and include Elizabeth Pajerski, his artist sister with whom he sometimes exhibited. There are files on Coenties Slip artists and related exhibitions. Other subjects of note are a Franz Kline traveling exhibition curated by Mitchell, and Mississippi Art Colony. Individuals for whom threre are substantial subject files include Justo Gonzales, James M. McQuade, Jim Ochman, Peter Rooney, John W. ("Dicky") Stevens, and Phil Sultz.
Most artwork is by Mitchell and consists mainly of drawings and sketches. Artwork by others includes drawings and watercolors by Peter Rooney, students, and unidentified artists. Mitchell's sketchbooks (16 volumes) contain sketches, drawings, and a few finished watercolors.
Printed material is about or mentions Mitchell. Included are a variety of items such as exhibition catalogs and announcements, brochures, clippings, press releases, and concert programs. Photographs are of Mitchell with family and friends; artwork by Mitchell and other artists; exhibition installations and openings; and places including the Wall-South neighborhood just before the destruction of his studio and travel pictures.
The collection is arranged in 9 series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials,1942-circa 2005 (Box 1; 0.4 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1947-2004 (Boxes 1-2; 1.9 linear feet)
Series 3: Writings, circa 1940s-2004 (Boxes 2-3; 1.4 linear feet)
Series 4: Diaries, 1949-2002 (Boxes 4-6; 2.5 linear feet)
Series 5: Subject Files, 1943-2002 (Boxes 6-12; 6 linear feet)
Series 6: Artwork, circa 1940s-2002 (Boxes 12-13; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Sketchbooks, 1955-1993 (Boxes 13, 15; 0.6 linear feet)
Series 8: Printed Material, 1938-2004 (Boxes 13-14; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 9: Photographs, 1940s-2002 (Box 14; 0.5 linear feet)
Biographical / Historical:
Fred Mitchell (1923-2013), a painter and educator who worked in New York City, was among the first artists to open a studio in Coenties Slip on the East River in downtown Manhattan.
A native of Meridian, Mississippi, Madison Fred Mitchell (always called Fred), won a Scholastic Magazine award and his work was shown in its "15th Annual National High School Art Exhibit" held at the museum of the Carnegie Institute in 1942. Mitchell studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology for a year before entering the U. S. Army. After World War II ended, he resumed his education at Cranbrook Academy of Art (BFA 1946 and MFA 1956). He moved to New York in 1951 and became a member of the "Downtown Group." In 1952 he was among the organizers of Tanager Gallery and in 1954 founded the Coenties Slip School of Art.
Mitchell enjoyed a long career as a highly regarded teacher of drawing, painting, and art history. He taught at Finch College, the Positano Art Workshop in Italy, and Cranbrook Academy in the 1950s. During the 1960s, he was affiliated with Downtown Art Center at Seamens Church Institute in Coenties Slip, New York University, Cornell University, and Ithaca College. In the early 1970s Mitchell taught at Queens College, and from the mid-1980s-early 2000s served on the faculties of Parsons School of Design, Art Students League of New York, and City University of New York's Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn.
He exhibited widely in group shows and solo exhibitions in the New York area and throughout the United States. Among these venues were: Howard Wise Gallery, Meridian Museum, Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute, State University of New York Binghamton, University of Oregon, and Whitney Museum of American Art.
After several years of declining health, Fred Mitchell died in New York City in 2013.
Fred Mitchell donated a small amount of printed material and photographs in 1972. The majority of the papers were donated in 2013 by Fred Pajerski, Fred Mitchell's nephew.
Use of original material requires an appointment. Use of archival audiovisual recordings with no duplicate access copy requires advance notice.
The Fred Mitchell papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.