A Finding Aid to the Maxine Seelbinder Merlino Papers,
1928-2003
, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.merlmaxi
Creators:
Merlino, Maxine Ollie Seelbinder, 1912-
Dates:
1928-2003
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1.1 Linear Feet
Repository:
The papers of illustrator, muralist, theatrical set designer, and professor Maxine Seelbinder Merlino papers measure 1.1 linear feet and date from 1928-2003. The collection includes correspondence; newspaper clippings and reviews of artist's work; sketches for stage and set designs and mural decorations; federal commission contracts; exhibition brochures; theater playbills and announcements; photographs; original art work, including drawings and sketches; original lithographs; and material on the dedication of the Merlino Gallery at California State University, Long Beach.

Scope and Content Note
Scope and Content Note
The papers of illustrator, muralist, theatrical set designer, and professor, Maxine Seelbinder Merlino papers measures 1.1 linear feet and date from 1928-2003. The collection includes correspondence; newspaper clippings and reviews of artist's work; sketches for stage and set designs and mural decorations; federal commission contracts; exhibition brochures; theater playbills and announcements; photographs; original art work, including watercolor sketches; original lithographs; and material on the dedication of the Merlino Gallery at California State University, Long Beach.
Documenting Merlino's work on New Deal federal government programs are letters sent to her in the early 1940s from the Public Buildings Administration and the Section of Fine Arts of the Federal Works Agency in Washington, D.C. as well as three photographs of a mural executed by Merlino for the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C. that depicts Benjamin Banneker, a pioneering African-American surveyor, inventor, and astronomer.
Representing Merlino's early New York period are brochures of group exhibitions and her one-woman show in a theater gallery. Among the original works of art are two original lithographs: Franco's Destruction, which was reproduced in a 1938 issue of New Masses, and Hearst's Empire, which appeared in the April 1938 edition of The Fight magazine.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as five series:
  • Series 1: Biographical, 1929-2003 (Box 1; 5 folders)
  • Series 2: Letters, 1936-2001 (Box 1; 6 folders)
  • Series 3: Projects, 1927-2002 (Box 1-2; 26 folders)
  • Series 4: Printed Material, 1939-1969 (Box 1-2; 13 folders)
  • Series 5: Works of Art, 1932-1957 (Box 1, 3, OV 4; 21 folders)

Biographical Note
Biographical Note
Maxine Ollie Seelbinder Merlino was born in Portland, Oregon in 1912. She trained at the Portland Art Museum School before venturing to New York City where she took classes at the Art Students' League with, among others, Will Barnet, Anton Refregier, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, and Harry Sternberg. Maxine Merlino worked in New York from 1936 to 1943 as a free-lance illustrator, muralist, and theatrical set designer.
In 1940 and 1942, Merlino won mural commissions for the United States Department of Interior Section of Fine Arts program. She designed and executed murals for the S.S. Garfield, and painted a mural that graced the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C., one of seven murals in the building celebrating the contributions of African Americans.
Relocating to Long Beach, California in 1943, she worked as a scientific illustrator for the Army Air Force during the Second World War and subsequently as a stage, set and costume designer for theater and film producer Preston Sturges. From the early 1950s until her retirement in 1976, she was affiliated with California State University, Long Beach where she served as a Professor of Art and Theater Design and then as Dean of the Art Department. In recognition of Dr. Merlino's contributions to the department, the university dedicated an art gallery in her name, in February 2003.

Administration
Processing Information
The papers were processed in December, 2004 by Pamela Conway.
Author
Pamela Conway
Provenance
Dr. Merlino donated her papers in 2003.

Using the Collection
Restrictions on Access
The collection is open for research. Use requires an appointment.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Maxine Seelbinder Merlino papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Preferred Citation
Maxine Seelbinder Merlino papers, 1928-2003. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Mural painting and decoration -- 20th century -- California Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Set Designers -- California Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Federal aid to the arts Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Art -- Study and teaching Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Works of art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
California State University, Long Beach -- Faculty Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/