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The Art of the Steinfeldts
through August 27, 2006
For the first time
ever, the artwork of the Witte Museum's Curator Emeritus, Cecilia Steinfeldt,
and her husband, Eric Steinfeldt, are being exhibited together, showcasing
their artistic legacy. On July 15, the Witte Museum opened The Art of
the Steinfeldts in the Piper Memorial Wing, where it will remain on
view for a limited engagement through August 27, 2006.
The Art of the Steinfeldts
features works by Cecilia Neuheisel Steinfeldt including watercolors, oils,
linoleum block print Christmas cards and a selection of enamel work. Works
by Eric Steinfeldt include watercolors, oils, graphite drawings and black
and white photographs.
Cecilia Steinfeldt began her 60-year-long career at the
Witte Museum as an art instructor. She earned her place as the First Lady
of Texas Art through her many exhibits and articles on Texas artwork and,
most importantly, her five books on Texas art including her most recent:
S. Seymour Thomas: A Texas Genius Rediscovered. Her husband, Eric
Steinfeldt, is a talented painter and cartographer. Spending summers at
this family's vacation home in Galveston spurred a passion for ships and
the sea. He devoted much time to reading and studying everything concerning
nautical history, which is reflected in his photographs of hundreds of ships
along the Gulf Coast.
Wall texts from the exhibition
- Cecilia Steinfeldt
- Cecilia was born in Montello, Wisconsin on May 24, 1915.
She came with her family to San Antonio in 1923 and since then she has
been a fiercely dedicated Texan.
- Her talent for drawing and painting was evident at an
early age and was fostered and encouraged by her parents. Graduating from
high school in 1932 at the peak of the Great Depression, her family was
unable financially to send her to college. Her art education was sporadic
consisting primarily in odd scholarships and free instructions.
- In 1936, Cecilia started teaching adult art classes at
the Witte Museum. Mrs. Ellen Quillin, director, saw potential in the young
lady and hired her as a staff member. She has served the museum in numerous
different positions since that time and is now Curator Emeritus.
- Eric Steinfeldt
- Eric Steinfeldt is a native San Antonian, born at the
family home at 1015 South St. Mary's Street on February 8, 1917. He was
the son of John M. Steinfeldt and Viria Mae Ripley Steinfeldt. John Steinfeldt
was a locally prominent musician, composer, and teacher. Eric grew up
in a very cultured atmosphere and played cello. This, in turn, extended
his interest in the arts to painting.
- After he married Cecilia Neuheisel, he was further prompted
to use his artistic talents in visual form. Henry Lee McFee, the well-known
American painter, became interested in the young man and encouraged his
efforts. When World War II intervened, Eric's artistic efforts came to
a halt when he joined the Navy in 1942. After the war was over, he applied
his creative urges to photography. His favorite subjects were ships and
shipping along the Gulf Coast of the United States.
- Ships and the Sea
- Eric's passion for ships and the sea was a natural interest
that developed when he spent his summers at the family's summer home at
Morgan's Point near Galveston. He devoted much time to reading and studying
anything and everything concerning nautical history. Much of this interest
is reflected in photographs of hundreds of ships along the Gulf Coast.
As a result, Eric has become an authority on the subject and is frequently
consulted by researchers and scholars.
- Linoleum Block Prints
- Linoleum block prints are inexpensive versions of classic
woodcuts. The blocks actually are made of firm thick linoleum mounted
on wooden bases to steady them.
- Although hard linoleum is difficult to cut, it does not
require the skill that woodcuts demand. However, it does require dexterity
and strength. Linoleum block prints are popular because they are less
expensive to produce making them ideal mediums for multiple printings such
as Christmas cards.
- Cecilia's Christmas cards were printed by Edward Arrendondo
at the Witte Museum and sold at the Witte store. Paint was frequently
applied manually to give them life and color. Mask was a print
exhibited in the Texas Centennial Exhibition at the State Fair in Dallas
- Enameling on Metal
- Enamel is powdered glass about the consistency of fine
sand. Enameling is the art of fusing a glassy coating onto the surface
of a piece of metal. The metal object is treated with an adhesive coating
such as agar, then the powdered enamel is dusted over the piece and put
in a heated kiln at about 1500 degrees for a few minutes, making the powdered
glass melt to a smooth surface. Many utilitarian and decorative items
can be produced this way.
- When Cecilia had no studio in which to paint, she turned
her talents to craftwork creating items that were saleable, resulting in
a welcome income.
- Silver Images
- When Eric decided to indulge in photography rather than
painting, he approached the subject with the same energy and dedication
he addressed everything. He used a Rolei camera with Zeis or Schoeder
lenses, and always with a tripod. His images are primarily of ships and
harbor scenes but occasionally a building or landscape provided inspiration.
- Throughout the years he has compiled a valuable record
of shipping history of the Gulf Coast. Doing his own developing with meticulous
precision and care, his images can be considered works of art.
- Silver Craft
- Silver is a lustrous metal that has been used for centuries
for decorative as well as utilitarian purposes. It is a versatile medium
that can be used for coins, jewelry, tableware, household objects and in
countless other ways.
- Cecilia's silversmith attempts were elementary and minimal.
She attended classes at San Antonio College and produced a few pieces
but lacked the facilities to produce soldered pieces at home. The small
green enameled pendant combines two crafts, that of hammered silver and
(above: Cecilia Steinfeldt, Guadalupe Street Scene,
1937, Watercolor. Gift of Cecilia Steinfeldt)
(above: Cecilia Steinfeldt, Eric Reading a Book,
1941, Oil on canvas. Gift of Bill and Mary Cheek Family)
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