Published: Friday, November 10, 2006
Sebring native receives National Medal of Arts
The artist's work includes toys, dinnerware, ceramics and paintings.
WASHINGTON President Bush called Sebring native Viktor Schreckengost a giant as he awarded the 100-year-old artist the National Medal of Arts.
"I'm just tickled to death to have had this experience," Schreckengost, an internationally acclaimed industrial designer, said after a reception in the East Wing of the White House.
Schreckengost lives in Cleveland.
"It's just so wonderful to be recognized for all my work and the contributions I have been able to make to this country."
His range of work includes toys, ceramics, paintings, dinnerware and trucks.
To mark Schreckengost's 100th birthday in June, more than 130 galleries and museums throughout the United States participated in a National Centennial Exhibition displaying his works. Among those galleries was his alma mater, the Cleveland Institute of Art, which highlighted his student art from 1925 to 1929.
His artistic creations include paintings, sketches, sculptures and famed New Yorker ceramics that caught the eye of Eleanor Roosevelt. His industrial designs include millions of bicycles sold by Sears, children's pedal wagons, lawn chairs, sit-down lawn mowers and American Limoges dinnerware.
He was commissioned in 1931 by Mrs. Roosevelt to create a large punch bowl for her husband before his nomination for the presidency.
That creation is now considered by collectors to be an icon of the art deco era.
Reason for honor
President Bush said that it was Schreckengost's determination to bring art to everyday life that earned him the medal.
"It is the change he brought to the American lifestyle, and the ongoing contributions of his work, and the work of his students, which makes him so deserving this honor," the president said.
After hanging the medal around Schreckengost's neck, the president was joined by first lady Laura Bush to pose with the artist for a formal portrait.
After the ceremony, Schreckengost and the other nine 2006 Medal of Arts recipients were hosted by Mrs. Bush at a reception in the East Wing of the White House. While there, the Schreckengosts secured a promise from the White House curator to research and determine the location where the bowl he designed for Roosevelt was kept.
Other medal recipients include actress/dancer Cyd Charisse, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans and Cincinnati Pops conductor Erich Kunzel.