, , , ,

May 23rd is Gwen Frostic Day

Gwen Frostic Studio ~ Benzonia, Michigan by Trish P

Gwen Frostic Studio ~ Benzonia, Michigan by Trish P

Gwen Frostic

Today is (thanks to Gov. William Milliken) Gwen Frostic Day in Michigan. Frostic was born in 1906 and passed away in 2001. The Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame page for Sara Gwendolyn Frostic says that she was born in 1906 and passed away in 2001:

Author, artist, lecturer, and founder and sole proprietor of Presscraft Papers in Benzonia, Michigan, Gwen Frostic is known throughout the nation for her images of nature and for illustrated books which reflect her indomitable philosophy.

Frostic was born in Sandusky, Michigan and lived in St. Charles before moving to Wyandotte for her high school years. Interested in art from an early age, she used a band saw to create life-size posters for school events, and later studied art education at Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan Universities. During World War II, she worked in a Ford Motor Company bomber plant where she learned production, a skill she put to good use running the 15 Heidelberg presses in her northern Michigan printing and sales establishment. These presses make impressions from her hand-carved linoleum blocks onto paper and the resulting prints found their way into distinctive books, pamphlets, stationery, and other products she designed.

After beginning her business in Wyandotte, Frostic moved to Benzie County in 1955, starting with 40 acres and gradually creating a 285-acre wildlife sanctuary 35 miles southwest of Traverse City. Her commitment to nature and design is reflected in her home, studio, and print shop which draw thousands of visitors each summer.

The Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame inducted Gwen Frostic in 1986. They relate that:

Frostic was a generous patron of the arts, donating $13 million – the largest gift in school history – to WMU, who renamed their art school the Gwen Frostic School of Art and award three Gwen Frostic Medallion Scholarships for art students every year. The Michigan Reading Association also has a Gwen Frostic award that recognizes a Michigan author who has made a contribution to literacy. We heartily encourage you to read the fascinating story of one of Michigan’s best known artists in from the Detroit Free Press (via archive.org).

Click here to visit the Gwen Frostic Studio and you can also follow Gwen Frostic on Facebook. Here’s an interview with Gwen several years before she passed away below, and here’s another that allows you take a stroll around the nature center on the grounds at her studio.