question about 2 ½ years ago and I wanted to give a followup and say “thanks”.
So, as stated in the question, I was moved by a print that I had seen in an office about 15 years ago, and was looking for more information on the artist, Arthur Seller. I had searched the internet in vain since that time, looking for anything on the artist; biographical info, other prints, that particular print - whatever I could find I would be happy about. Finally, I decided to give up and ask for your help. As you can see from the few answers, it wasn’t for lack of trying or my poor searching, there just wasn’t much about him to be found.
Months passed, and one day I received an email from Mathowie informing me that someone had contacted him regarding the post and he was forwarding their message:
“One of your postings was looking for the artist Arthur Seller. He is my father. If you want more information, you can reach me at …”
I was of course excited, but since my wife and I just had our second child a month before, and constructing a reply that I was comfortable with would take several agonizing hours of writing/editing/rewriting, it got put at the bottom of the list where it taunted me on a daily basis. I finally made myself sit down and write back, exactly one year after I posted the question.
A couple of days later, I received a reply from his daughter, Wendy, with the following biographical information (reprinted with her permission):
“My father was born in 1918 and spent his teen years in foster homes in Massachusetts. He was trained at the Massachusetts College of Art where he received a degree in Graphic Design. He was very strong at design and calligraphy, and worked at first in Boston before moving to NYC. He became one of the Head Art Supervisors at Young & Rubicam in New York, which (at the time) was the 2nd largest advertising agency in the world. When he had been there for 10 years, he was given his first four-week vacation -- which he took all at once. The day he returned to work, he called my mother and told her that he couldn't do it any more. He had been commuting by train for many years from Westport, CT, where my brother and I were raised. Without flinching, my mother said she would pick him up on the noon train, and this began his next career.
For the following 2 years he tried to figure out his next step. He taught himself color photography, got himself an agent, and traveled around the world taking photographs for major publications and corporate annual reports.
At the age of 50, he and my mother moved to Rockport, Massachusetts where my mother went into real estate so that my father could paint. He created oil paintings similar to your print for about 7 years, working in his studio that overlooks the ocean. At the age of 57 he had a hip replacement (I can't remember if this was his first, 2nd or 3rd). While he was recovering, he taught himself printmaking. His silkscreen prints were very complex; some had up to 44 colors. He created them singlehandedly in limited editions, some while he was on crutches. At his peak he had as many as 30 galleries up and down the east coast.
My father died in 1991 at the age of 72. ”
Wendy’s email went on to say that her mother, Suzanne, is still around. She’s 89 and she lives in that same house in Rockport, where she runs a gallery, and here’s her email address...
“Well, I’m not going to let this one go for a year”, I thought, so I write to Suzanne immediately to tell her how I was touched by her husband’s work, and how much joy it brought me, even just remembering it.
She wrote back the same day to say that she was in the process of selling the house/gallery and was selling some of his prints, and she in fact, had the one that I was looking for - “The Boat”
. Would I like it?
And the rest is history. My son and I spent the afternoon driving to her place and talking with her, and the print now hangs at our house. Since then, we’ve kept in touch with Suzanne, who is a wonderful, inspirational woman and my family is looking forward to driving up and visiting her this summer. The funny thing is, after all of this, while I still enjoy “The Boat” on its’ own, it has come to mean so much more to me. Every time I look at it, I can’t help but think of Wendy and Suzanne, Metafilter and the random people on the internet who have stumbled across that post and emailed me to try to help. Thanks everyone!
Additional info on Art Seller:
The Making of a Serigraph
Suzanne also wrote a book called Wild Alternatives
about artistic inspiration and personal growth a few years ago (at 85) that contains some personal stories and insight into Art Seller as well.