Eunice Schuler

Maiden Name: 
Laing
Spouse: 
Dement
Children: 
Peter
Birth Date: 
1896
Birth Place: 
Dixon, IL
Death Date: 
1983
Residences/Studios: 
Dixon, IL
Visited: 
Cuba
New Orleans, LA
Active In: 
Dixon, IL
Grand Detour, IL
Medium: 
Painting - Watercolor
Subject: 
Landscape
Exhibitions: 
Phidian Art Club Exhibit, Dixon, IL
Burpee Art Gallery, Rockford, IL
Awards: 
Best of Show, Phidian Art Club Exhibit, 1947
Memberships: 
Phidian Art Club, Dixon, IL
Rock River Valley Art Association
Rockford Art Association
Davenport (IA) Art Association
Training: 
Art Institute of Chicago
Biography: 
Eunice Laing Schuler (1896-1983)

Biography by Duane Paulsen, Grand Detour

Eunice’s family arrived in 1851 when her grandfather, Robert F. Laing, a stonemason, went to work for the Illinois Central Railroad. His most enduring legacy is the three limestone arches that span First, Second, and Third streets leading up to the long-gone railroad bridge. Eunice’s father, John T. Laing, operated a flour mill located on what is now the Beanblossom parking lot on River Street in Dixon.

After she graduated from high school, Eunice enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago planning on pursuing a career in commercial art. Unfortunately, Eunice’s formal art education was cut short after two years, 1916 and 1917, when she returned home to care for her ailing mother.

Eunice and Dement Schuler were married in 1925. Pete her son described Eunice as being a very gentle person who never spoke a harsh word to anyone. Eunice continued with her art education and studied with Grand Detour artists John Nolf and Mattie Leitz. At that time, in the late 1930’s and 1940’s, Mattie Leitz was holding classes in the loft of Fred Garner’s barn across the street from the Nolf house.

Eunice painted with watercolors, and she liked to paint outdoors with her friend Agnes Ferguson. They painted the Galena and Grand Detour area and along the Rock River Valley. Eunice and Dement made several trips to Cuba and New Orleans where she drew sketches that became paintings when she returned home. The Schuler’s built a home at 217 North Dement Ave., where Eunice had an upstairs studio with a huge fireplace and large windows on the north side.

Eunice was a member of the Phidian Art Club, and was the first “Best Of Show” winner when the annual competition began in 1947. She was also involved with the Rock River Valley Art Association, Rockford Art Association, and the Davenport, Iowa, Art Association. She exhibited at the Rockford Burpee Art Gallery and in other area art venues. She was also a member of the Dixon Daughters of the American Revolution, for the Laing family traces its lineage back to John Bradford of the Mayflower and Plymouth Colony. She was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and a member of the First Presbyterian Church.

Being very modest, Eunice sold many of her paintings for about what it cost to have them framed. At some point in time, Pete encouraged her to keep the paintings rather than sell them so cheaply. Perhaps that is why primarily her family and close friends own most of her works. She kept a “low profile” in life and the local art scene.

In the later years, Eunice developed carpal tunnel syndrome and painting using an easel became too painful. Rather than give up doing what she loved, she placed the blank paper on the floor and sat in a chair with her arm hanging down while she painted. It was during that time that she did six inch-square horoscope paintings for each of her three children and ten grandchildren. Each person’s sign of the zodiac is at the center of these intricate paintings.

For Eunice Laing Schuler painting was a lifelong passion that took her from the time when her aspirations to be a commercial artist were sidetracked by a need to care for her ailing mother to late in life when she refused to give up her art because of her own health problems.

Received from Colleen and Bob Logsdon, authors of The Phidian Art Club 1890-2009