Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

Fred Machetanz (1908-2002)
Fred Machetanz was born on February 20, 1908 in Kenton, Ohio. In 1935, an uncle invited Machetanz to come to Unalakleet for a short vacation. Fred had never thought much about Alaska but the overall theme for him was that the vacation would be at no expense to him. Little did Fred Machetanz realize but that this short vacation would evolve into about two years.

Fred earned his undergraduate and master degrees from Ohio State where he illustrated covers for their football team programs. In 1926, he traveled from Ohio to New York to meet with Maxfield Parrish about his work to date and asked for assistance. After he vacationed in Alaska, he went to several publishing houses in New York where he offered his work to illustrate books about Alaska. They told him to write his own and in 1939, he published a children's book entitled "Panuck: Eskimo Sled Dog." His second children's book was published in 1940 and was entitled "On Arctic Ice."

World War II came and Machetanz spent four years in the U. S. Navy where he often visited ports in Alaska. Upon his return to Unalakleet in 1946, he met Sara Dunn and in six months they were married. The couple settled in 1950 in Palmer and struggled for many years. They published books written by Sara and illustrated by Fred. The couple would travel the United States giving lectures on Alaska. He began doing stone lithographs of scenes of the Arctic and regularly produced them until 1980.

In the early 1960's, a public relations man funded a one man show for Fred Machetanz. The show opened on April 21, 1962 and it became the turning point in the career of Fred Machetanz.

Fred Machetanz passed away on October 6, 2002 at the age of 94.

Reference Source: "The Last Master" by Lew Freedman, We Alaskans, The Anchorage Daily News Magazine; June 5, 1994; Pages H-8 to H-14.

View high resolution images of works by Fred Machetanz when available.