Theme/Style – Modernism, still life, botanical
Media – Oils, watercolor, gouache, lithographs, photography, ceramics, murals
Artistic Focus – Hazel Sheckler was quite remarkable in her ability to enthusiastically interweave her many artistic pursuits with a role she found equally fulfilling, as her husband’s partner in running a cattle ranch in San Diego County. Her lithographs of flowers are particularly striking, with a brilliant, kinetic quality that makes them seem to pulsate with life and energy.
Career Highlights –
- Born Hazel Marguerite Finch in 1887 in Los Angeles, California, Hazel Sheckler was raised in Los Angeles and later in South Pasadena. As a young girl she studied music and was an accomplished pianist; she also studied art while a student at South Pasadena High School.
- The family later moved to San Diego, where Sheckler’s father, a carpenter, built homes and worked on the construction of the historic Hotel del Coronado.
- In 1909 Hazel married William Claude Sheckler, the son of early California pioneers who had established a cattle ranch in San Diego County in the 1870s; and after their marriage, the Sheckler family ranch became their home. The ranch, along what is now Highway 94 and located ten miles from the Mexico/United States border, became an early way station for travelers in the days of horse and wagon transportation.
- Sheckler embraced her role as a “ranch wife.” She sewed, knitted, and wove saddle blankets and rugs on a loom; raised and sold chickens, eggs, and turkeys; baked bread and canned from her garden; rode with the men rounding up cattle; and according to a relative, “she was considered a better shot than most of the men.”
- Even with the considerable demands of daily ranch life and raising her son, Sheckler painted, sketched, made ceramics, and did photography in her makeshift art studio behind her home, where she had a darkroom and a kiln. Friendships with fellow San Diego artists Donal Hord, Anna Marie Valentien, Charles Fries, and others resulted in countless gatherings and many hours of painting at the ranch.
- From the mid-1930s through the early 1940s, Sheckler created prints under the auspices of the Federal Art Project. During the same period she produced a series of watercolors for the Federal Art Project, as part of the Index of American Design. Conceived as an effort to identify and preserve a national, ancestral aesthetic, the Index comprises over 18,000 watercolor renderings of American folk and decorative arts objects from the colonial period through 1900. As part of this collection, Sheckler’s watercolors of textiles and equestrian items are housed in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
- Sheckler also assisted artists Jean Goodwin and Arthur Ames on the three-panel WPA (Works Progress Administration) mural at the San Diego County Administration Center entitled Recreation, Agriculture, and Conservation, completed in 1939; and she exhibited with the San Diego Art Association in Balboa Park and at shows throughout San Diego County.
- Hazel Sheckler passed away in San Diego, at the age of 94, in 1981.
Selection of Works by this Artist
Bibliographic references are available upon request.