Congratulations Viktor Schreckengost!

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Thu, 11/09/2006 - 05:06.

I can't think of an artist more deserving of this award! Please read on ...

President Bush Announces Viktor Schreckengost as 2006 Medal of Arts Recipient
Washington, D.C. – Cleveland resident Viktor Schreckengost has been named one of 10 National Medal of the Arts recipients for 2006. President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush will honor him in an Oval Office ceremony at the White House Nov. 9th.

“These individuals and organizations have all made enduring contributions to the artistic life of our nation,” said National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia “Whether by translating the masterpieces of Latin American literature or bringing genius to the design of everyday objects or simply preserving the great musical heritage of New Orleans, their work has enriched our national culture.”

Schreckengost first commanded the attention of the White House when he was commissioned by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to create a special punch bowl for her husband. Now known as the JAZZ BOWL, the bowls are icons of the At Deco era, representing the beginning of a career that spanned three-quarters of a century and includes highly-celebrated achievements in fine art, industrial design, technology, and the defense of America during WWII.

Esteemed as the most versatile American ceramic artist of the 20th-century, Schreckengost has produced work ranging from traditional-sized vessels and animal figures, to monumental sculptures for the Cleveland Zoo and Lakewood High School, which weigh more than thirty tons, most likely the largest ceramic sculptures ever made.

In 2006, Schreckengost’s voluminous body of work commanded the attention of the entire nation with the VIKTOR SCHRECKENGOST NATIONAL CENTENNIAL EXHIBITION – the largest exhibition of its kind in history. Venues as grand as the Archives for American Art and as humble as barbershops, clamored for an opportunity to celebrate his life and work – culminating in a nationwide exhibition of more than 140  simultaneous shows, displaying 891 pieces!

Beginning in the 1930s, Schreckengost’s work made him a founding figure of American industrial design as the founder of the Cleveland Institute of Art’s renowned school of Industrial Design, the first of its kind in the country, and today one of America’s three leading schools of Industrial Design. In the more than seventy years he taught, he has trained upwards of 1,000 students, whose innovative products, such as the Ford Mustang and the Crest Spinbrush, have added many billions of dollars to the American economy. There is probably not an adult alive in the United States today who has not handled products designed by either Viktor or his students.

In addition to his career as an educator, he is the creator of the first mass-produced American dinnerware, developed the first cab-over-engine truck and became known as the “Henry Ford” of pedal cars, by creating the first ones to be stamped out of a single piece of metal. As chief designer for the Murray Ohio Company, Schreckengost was the first to “blind-weld” bicycles, along with creating the first golf cart lawn mower, and of hundreds of other designs for everything from lawn furniture to flashlights to artificial limbs. During World War II, Schreckengost engineered enormous advancements for the United States in the race to make RADAR a viable military technology. He was able to generate terrain models to guide bombing missions, and earned commendation from the Secretary of the Navy for his advancements of this infant science. In addition, Schreckengost improved medical technology to allow better fitting of artificial limbs.

Schreckengost served his adopted hometown for more than 30 years as a member of the Fine Arts Advisory Board to Cleveland’s City Planers.

The National Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984, is awarded by the President to those who have made extraordinary contributions to the creation, growth, and support of the arts in the United States. Each year, the Arts Endowment seeks nominations from individuals and organizations across the country.  The National Council on the Arts, the Arts Endowment, is appointed by the President and Senate-confirmed advisory body, reviews the nominations and provides recommendations to the President, who selects the recipients.

To view the information on the White House website, please go to:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/11/20061108.html

This story from the Cleveland Institute of Art Website: http://www.cia.edu/about/pressroom.php?sub=current&news_id=73

Viktor is so cool

I heard this on NPR last night and saw a write up in the PD today - really exceptional. Everything I know of Viktor is amazing. One story I especially love is that he was hired to design a chair so he set up a barrel filled with clay outside the factory that would produce the chair and had the employees sit in the clay as they came out. After having many employees sit on the clay, it became universal in form and that was the form he used for the chairs, which I believe became those metal clamshell chairs that have been so popular since the 1950s. My recounting of this may not be entirely accurate but close enough, as the point is how a smart designer attacks a design challenge from a human dimension. Congratulations Viktor... you are awesome.

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