Frank Williamson Skinner (1878-1942)
Frank W. Skinner was born February 17, 1878 in Nashua, Iowa. He was the son of Wellington – a Methodist minister – and Lucy (Goble) Skinner. Early in his career he was associated for about three years with the Terre Haute Gazette in the newspaper business. This would have likely been around 1900 as they ceased publication in 1904. Skinner was then associated with the advertising business in Minneapolis – the John H. Mitchell Advertising Agency – which he purchased in 1914. This company represented such others as Munsingwear, Toastmaster, Anacin and Minneapolis Moline. He also worked at the Smith Lithograph Company in Chicago until about 1939 when he moved permanently to Beaver Bay, Minnesota, and founded Studio Inn Resort. There, in his painting studio, could be found many of his landscape paintings of the area.
Artistically, he studied at the Cumming School of Art in Des Moines, Iowa; plus the Chicago Academy and the Art Students League in New York. He exhibited at a number of mid-western cities including Minneapolis and Duluth plus a number of one-man local exhibitions.
He died at his home in Beaver Bay on June 17, 1942 after a short illness at the young age of 55.
Mr. Skinner is a versatile person, having been both in the
newspaper and advertising business before seriously developing his career as a
landscape artist. But his heart has
always been in his painting and in Northern Minnesota. As a matter of fact, he is such a staunch
Minnesota booster that when he delivers his lectures before luncheon and
women’s clubs throughout the country…as he does each winter in conjunction with
his one-man exhibitions…he talks more about the beauty and color and variety to
be found in Minnesota woods and waters than he does about his paintings. As Mr. Skinner casually put it, “Well, why
should I talk about my landscapes? Let
them talk for themselves.” And anyone with the tiniest drop of
comprehension can understand the story they tell. Artist Skinner has visited most of the
paintable parts of this country from coast to coast and, finally, selected the North
Shore and the Superior
National Forest as his center of
operations. “This section of Minnesota
has practically everything an artist could want in the way of variety and
color. There is unlimited opportunity in
the matter of subjects: marines, cliffs, wild forests, rough streams, quiet
So, with their home in East
on the North Shore
as the base of operations, Mr. and Mrs. Skinner trek back into dense woods
across the boulders of a rocky point jutting out into old Lake
Superior along a rushing little trout stream, and then catch the
colors and changing moods of each of these beauty spots. Behind Frank Skinner are four years of study
under Charles Atherton Cumming of Des Moines, Iowa.
In addition, he studied during varying periods of time in the Chicago
Academy, the Art Students’ League, New
York and under various landscape painters in the East
and in Michigan.
Mr. Skinner asks nothing better than to a able to spend his
summers wandering along the North Shore and through the country adjacent
thereto, capturing those elusive, golden moments of sheer loveliness and
holding them for all time for the year-in and year-out enjoyment of those who
love the north country but see too little of it."
Nichols, Cleo Fenton; “Bringing Back the North
Country Alive…” The Gopher, the Magazine of the Minneapolis
Athletic Club, undated (circa early 1940’s).
"I wonder if all painters of landscapes are dyed-in-the-wool
fisherman. There probably are many
artists who are not Izaak Walton devotees but I have yet to meet one. So it was no surprise to me when, during my
interview with Frank Skinner in connection with a showing of some of his
canvases, he stated he “always carries a fly rod in his easel case and has more
than a speaking acquaintance with the better fishing spots (particularly the
trout streams) in Minnesota and likes to keep up on his fishing whenever
Mr. Skinner’s death certificate and obituary
Ness, Zenobia. Iowa Artists of the First 100 Years.
Compiled and submitted by Edward Bentley, researcher of Lansing, Michigan.