Frances Myers (1936 – 2014) was born in Racine and grew up in the neighborhood adjacent to the S.C. Johnson and Son Administration Building. Myers’ love of printmaking was ignited in the early 1960s, when she studied etching with the famed master printer, Stanley William Hayter, at the San Francisco Art Institute. She returned to Wisconsin to obtain her degree at University of Wisconsin–Madison. After graduate school, Myers was invited to teach in England. While in London, she encountered many Art Moderne buildings and they became the subjects of an ongoing series of prints she created depicting Art Moderne and Art Deco structures.
Myers did not invent buildings in these prints. Instead, she created a well-thought-out visual response to these structures, recognizing them to be works of art in their own right. By dialoguing with actual buildings as opposed to dealing with more conventional works of art hanging on the walls in museums, Myers encouraged a deeper appreciation for this style of twentieth-century architecture. She returned to the United States from England and taught at University of Wisconsin–Madison for multiple decades, eventually becoming Chair of the Graphics Department. During this time, she continued her series devoted to Art Moderne and Art Deco buildings, adding 1930s American movie palaces and the decorative tops of New York City skyscrapers. These interpretations of buildings led directly to the commissioning of the Wright Portfolio.
This meeting of a great architect’s vision with a master printmaker’s spot-on visual response to his work received national attention in the art media. It also led Myers to create six additional aquatint etchings devoted to other Wright buildings at a time, when his buildings had rarely, if ever, been depicted in this personal, interpretive way.
The museums that hold Myers’ work represent many of the important public print collections in the world including the: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Brooklyn Museum; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Milwaukee Art Museum; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London. RAM has an archive of over 25 works on paper by Myers.
In addition to this recognition, Myers received two highly sought after National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and was inducted as a fellow into the National Academy of Design in New York. She operated Mantegna Press in Hollandale, Wisconsin, with her husband, the internationally recognized master printmaker, Warrington Colescott.