Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frank Earl Klepper 1890-1952

    Frank Klepper, son of John Bench Klepper and Mary Cunningham Klepper, was born in Plano, Collin County, Texas on 03 May 1890.  A few stories and documents list his mother as Molly and his birth place as McKinney but these are not accurate.
    He received his early education in local Collin County schools and his first art lessons from his aunt.  He left Plano in 1914 to attend the Art Institute of Chicago but his studies were interrupted when he enlisted the United States Army's Thirty-sixth Infantry Division in France where he worked on camouflage.  After the war he studied at the American Art Training Center in Paris.
    Returning to Texas in 1920, Frank opened an art studio in McKinney where he established his reputation by winning the Arthur A. Events medal for landscape painting at the 1920 Texas Artist Exhibition.
   "A History of Collin County, Texas" by J. Lee Stambaugh and Lillian J. Stambaugh stated that "At one time Klepper had an art studio in McKinney but he later opened a studio in Dallas (1927) and taught evening classes in the Dallas public schools for over twenty years.  During the 1920's he was director of the art department of the College of Fine Art on Swiss Avenue in Dallas (Southwestern School of Fine Arts?).  He spent time in Taos New Mexico and was a member of the Taos Art Colony.  Then in 1929 began teaching evening classes in etching, and later ceramics, for the Dallas public school system.  After being the visiting art director of Kidd-Key College in Sherman in 1931, he returned to teach for over twenty years in Dallas.  "In 1937 he visited the Orient and acquired a valuable collection of oriental porcelain and Chinese treasures."
    A newspaper article in the Collin County Museum states that "Among Mr. Klepper's recent awards and honors are: Honorable Mention, Davis Competitive Exhibition, San Antonio, 1929; First Prize for landscape, Southern States Art League, 1930; Honorable Mention, Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, Lubbock, Texas, 1931.  He is represented in the John Vanderpoel Memorial Collection, Chicago; the Arkansas State Art Association, Little Rock, and in numerous private collections throughout the country.  Klepper is director of the art department at Kidd-key College, Sherman, and instructs classes in Dallas schools."  During the second world war, he taught art in the occupational therapy department at Ashburn General Hospital in McKinney.

    During his art career, Frank painted impressionistic landscape style, "Deep South" pictures, and experimented with symbolic paintings.  His skill in lithography and etching won him the Southern States Art League first prize for bookplate designs in 1932.  His murals can still be seen at the Old McKinney Post Office Museum and the Praire View College.  Many of his paintings can be found across Texas, including at the Dallas Museum of Art (Texas Shrine, the Alamo), the Elisabet Ney Museum in Austin (Liendo), the Glady Harrington Public Library in Plano ("Morning in the Hills" and a painting of the Japanese goddess of love and fertility, "Quin Yin.") and many private collections.  The Collin County Museum in McKinney, Texas has several other paintings, articles, and a bust of Frank Klepper.
    In the newspaper article "Art League of Denison Sponsors Klepper Exhibit,"Frank Klepper was quoted as saying "In my pictures, I deliberately set out to create a mood which is usually lyric in essence.  I should like the person who looks at them to let them draw him into the scene.  If he gives the picture the chance to suggest to him its emotional content, then I think he will be likely to understand, through direct experience, something of what I have tried to stay.  The longer I paint the more clearly is seams to me that pictures - the best pictures - are symbols.  Through their color and form, the artist who paints with true authority actually succeeds in making a representation - almost one might say mystically - of some profound spiritual idea that is vital in the Universe."
    There are no records of Frank ever being married or having any children.  Frank died of a heart attack on 04 Jun 1952 and in his will he left a valuable collection of books and sculptures to the Memorial Library in McKinney (Old Post Office Museum).  The Handbook of Texas Online states that Frank "was buried with First Christian Church rites in McKinney," but his headstone is in the Plano Mutual Cemetery next to that of his parents.

• Lucille Mehrkam, History and Genealogy of the Family of Jacob Klepper/Clepper Family and Malcolm McAlpine Family (The Gregath Company, 1996), Library of Congress under card number 86-62751 (Page 11)
• Newspaper clippings at the Collin County Museum in the Old McKinney Post Office at Chestnut and Virginia Streets; or 972-542-9457.
• "A History of Collin County, Texas" by J. Lee Stambaugh and Lillian J. Stambaugh, 1958, can be found at the Gladys Harrington Public Library in Plano, Collin County, Texas.
• "The Handbook of Texas Online" by David Minor 15 Feb 1999.

Additional Information:
• "Handbook of Texas: Supplement" - Volume 3, edited by Eldon S. Branda, Texas A&M Press, College Station, Texas, 1999.
• "Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artist of the American West" by Harold Samuels / Peggy Samuels, Castle Publishing, Chicago c.1985.
• New Deal Art in Texas,
• “Last Rites Set Friday For Frank E. Klepper.” The Dallas Times-Herald. 05 Jun 1952.
• 01 Aug 1927 Nevada Supreme Court Casea on Microfilm #2804, Bessie Lovell Klepper v. Frank Klepper.
• David Dike Fine Art 2613 Fairmount, 75201 • 214-720-4044, fax 214-720-4469 • mon-fri 10-5, sat 11-4

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