Cleora Clark Wheeler studied design at the University of Minnesota (Class of 1902), and at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art (now Parsons). She returned to Minnesota and established her own studio in the family residence in St. Paul. Calling herself a ‘designer-illuminator,’ she did custom bookplates, greeting cards and wedding invitations. She also painted, and then took up photography, and the hand-tinting of photographs.
The work that stopped me in my tracks was “Evening” (1922), shown above, a gelatin silver print with hand-coloring, the photo taken in California. Her photography was exhibited in St. Paul and San Francisco, but it seems her bookplates brought her the most fame.
In her essay, “On Behalf of Accuracy,” she wrote, “The wish to add a touch of beauty as well as a mark of ownership to some well loved book seems the most natural thing in the world.” She also did illustrations for “framed mottoes,” such as the one below, based on Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees.”