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Jack Keijo Steele Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 2012-09

Collection Scope

The collection contains biographical materials (mainly secondary sources compiled by Steele's family), correspondence, exhibition catalogs, publications, and photographs. The bulk of the collection consists of Steele’s sketchbooks.

Dates

  • 1941 - 2003

Creator

Access

Access to the collection is unrestricted.

Use

Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.

History

Jack Keijo Steele was born on May 6, 1919 in Ironwood, Michigan, the first of three children to Finnish parents. At age eight, following his father’s death, Steele moved with his family to Detroit. He left Cass Technical High School in eleventh grade to study drawing and composition under Carlos Lopez and George Rich at the Meinzinger School of Art in Detroit. He also worked on the assembly line at Ford Motor Company.

Starting in the fall of 1940, Steele attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he studied painting with Zoltan Sepeshy. In 1942, Steele received his first award as a mural artist as part of the Cranbrook team in the Rome Collaborative competition. Not long after, he left Cranbrook to join the war effort. He was selected by the War Department Advisory Committee to be a “soldier artist” and document his experience. Steele traveled to Australia and the South Pacific, filling books with sketches of his fellow servicemen, living conditions, and the people and places he encountered. After the war, he returned to Cranbrook to complete his studies. In 1949, Steele found employment as a clay modeler in the styling department at Ford, where he stayed until his retirement in 1980.

Known for painting urban realism, Steele exhibited his work throughout the 1950s and early1960s. He withdrew from publically displaying his work during the rise of pop art in the mid-1960s, but continued to paint. His work was “rediscovered” in the 1990s, when it was once again exhibited.

Steele married his wife Helen in 1947 and together they raised five children.

Extent

1.8 Linear Feet (2 MS, 1 OS)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Steele attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he studied painting with Zoltan Sepeshy, starting in the fall of 1940. In 1942, he received his first award as a mural artist as part of the Cranbrook team in the Rome Collaborative competition. Not long after, he left Cranbrook to join the war effort and was selected by the War Department Advisory Committee to be a “soldier artist” and document his experience. Steele traveled to Australia and the South Pacific, filling books with sketches of his fellow servicemen, living conditions, and the people and places he encountered. After the war, he returned to Cranbrook to complete his studies. In 1949, Steele found employment as a clay modeler in the styling department at Ford, where he stayed until his retirement in 1980. Known for painting urban realism, Steele exhibited his work throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. He withdrew from publically displaying his work during the rise of pop art in the mid-1960s, but continued to paint. His work was “rediscovered” in the 1990s, when it was once again exhibited. The bulk of the collection consists of Steele’s sketchbooks, with some manuscript materials and a collection of secondary source materials compiled by Steele’s family.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically by topic and record type. The contents of folders are arranged chronologically.

Acquisition

The collection was donated to the archives by Jack Steele’s daughter, Sandy Steele, in November 2012.

Related Materials

Cranbrook Academy of Art Administration Records (1981-09)

Transfers

VHS tapes removed to the Videotape Collection.

Processing History

Robbie Terman, August 2013.
Title
Guide to the Jack Keijo Steele Papers
Subtitle
Steele (Jack Keijo) Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid written by Robbie Terman.
Date
August 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman.

Repository Details

Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository

Contact:
39221 Woodward Ave.
P.O. Box 801
Bloomfield Hills MI 48303 US