Robert Allen Wilcox (1903-1977)
Robert Allen Wilcox was born in Chicago and moved to Michigan City, Indiana with his parents when he was nine. He attended Elston Senior High School. While there his artistic trends – he always liked to draw - brought him in contact with August Krueger who offered him a job in his sign shop and helped him to learn the sign craft. Wilcox graduated from high school in 1922 and continued in the sign shop until 1924. “At that time a growing desire had crystallized and September of 1924 found me enrolled in the classes of the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, starting in a road that grows ever wider and seems to have no end,” he commented in an undated interview. He also engaged in study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Subsequent studies brought him in contact with the following instructors: Frederick Grant, Ruth Ford, Carl Kraft, J. Wellington Reynolds, and Francis Chapin. Plus later instruction at the American Academy of Art in Chicago in 1931 through 1933 allowed him additional study with the legendary Andrew Loomis.
Wilcox maintained his own business as a commercial artist in Chicago and Michigan City for most of his career, handling advertising for companies of local and national importance, including the space industry. In addition to his illustrative work, the drawing and painting of figures was his chief interest, but landscapes and still life painting were not far behind. In addition to several entries in the Hoosier Salon, the artist also found time to be a founding member and one of the instructors for the Michigan City Art League.
Commenting on his success as a Chicago illustrator and the misconceptions many people have of those of his profession, the artist told another interviewer: “A lot of people think there is a distinct line between commercial art and painting. But there isn’t! I don’t know where you draw the line but commercial artists are just fine artists at heart.” Indeed, as the interviewer observed, after putting in a few hours as a commercial artist at his small business, he entered his home and seemed to gain new energy as he climbed the stairs to his art studio where he painted what he calls his “fun things.” There, surrounded by his easel and a table full of art equipment, he spoke at length about his influences and decisions on what to paint. “There is a wealth of material for artists to paint in and around Michigan City, he commented, “The lake, the dunes, Trail Creek and the harbor with its fish shanties.” In conclusion, the artist stated you have to be happy at what your do. Grinning, he remarked “If I had to do it again, I’d be an artist!”
Information and articles on the artist provided by the family of the artist.
Submitted by Edward P. Bentley, researcher from Lansing, Michigan