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 Frederick J. Garner  (1883 - 1962)

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Lived/Active: Illinois      Known for: landscape painting, commercial art

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Shoeing the horses
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Frederick J. Garner  1883 – 1962

Frederick J. Garner was born July 3, 1883, the son of James and Esther Dinah Carver Garner, in Kincardin, Canada.  He lived in Chicago until he retired to Grand Detour.  He was married to Margaret Moore on September 11, 1909, in Chicago.  They had one son Vernon F. Garner.

Mr. Garner’s field was abstract design.  He worked with watercolors and wrote several books on how to draw and paint.  His first book was published in 1948 and the fourth book came off the presses in November 1961.  The first book was entitled, How to Draw Trees, followed by Designs (a book to trace or copy), next came More Trees, and the fourth, Color in Trees.  His books on trees have illustrations of many Grand Detour homes.  The books  are no longer in print.

Most of Mr. Garner’s work was highly stylized.  One of the advertising agencies he was employed by was Baskin Company and his accounts included Arrow Shirts, Wembley  Neckware, Countess Nora, Peck and Peck, and Hart Schafner Marx all of whom produced mainly men’s wear.  His drawings are reminiscent of the classic ‘turn of the century’ Gibson Girls portraits.  He did the covers for The Green Book Magazine the November 1919, and September 1920 issues.

Between the years 1902 and 1903 he worked for the Chicago Daily News and later for the Chicago Tribune.  As a newspaper artist, Garner did illustrations of the Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago, the Russo-Japanese wars and other major news stories of the day.  He designed the Chicago Tribune's letter head in 1905, which was used for many years.

He closed his Chicago studio in 1938 and moved to Grand Detour.  He and his family first lived at 3974 W. Illinois Street where Fred built his art studio on the second floor of the barn.  He called his art Studio/Gallery “Householm,” a Swedish term meaning “house by the side of the river”, and held public exhibitions of paintings by quest artists.  Numerous groups were welcomed to the Garner studio shows.  Later they moved to 832 South Main Street across from the John Deere House.  His wife Margaret wrote poetry which often accompanied his art work.

The Garners quickly adjusted to small-town life and became active in community life.  He designed the lava bowl in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Dixon and managed the steeple restoration of St. Peter’s Church, Grand Detour.  He became very active in preserving the church and was custodian during the 1940’s.  He was also considered an authority on techniques of landscaping design.

During the 1950’s  Fred did a series of watercolor paintings of Grand Detour houses and painted a map of Grand Detour indicating the location of prominent landmarks.  He was also a talented carver and in 1953 he had a showcase exhibit of his carvings at the Loveland Community House sponsored by the Phidian Art Club in Conjunction with their annual art show.

Frederick and Margaret Garner are both buried in the Grand Detour cemetery.  They are the only members of the art colony that flourished there during the first half of the 20th century to be buried in the Grand Detour cemetery.
Duane Paulsen and Martha Cies

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