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Military veteran is Gilbertsville's resident artist
The Daily Star - 9/24/2022
Sep. 24—Military veteran and muralist Chris Seckler serves as this summer's resident artist at Gilbertsville Expressive Movement, an art venue in that village.
Seckler has more than 60 years of experience in painting and sculpting, according to Sean Shaeffer, park manager at GEM.
A 10,000 pound steel mural wall with dimensions of 8 feet by 24 feet was built for Seckler's mural project, Shaeffer said. Seckler has nearly completed the mural with just a few weeks left for detail work.
Seckler was born on May 5, 1944 and was raised in the Cicero, Illinois area, Schaeffer said. He attended York High School in Elmhurst, Illinois where his first interests in art began to blossom.
"I started molding models when I was around 14. I was 27 or 28 when I decided, I won contests for building models for all ages. I used to mold when I was 9 years old, making my own fiberglass models. At first I gained skills through experience, but my love for it really kept me going at first," Seckler said.
After high school, Seckler joined the Marine Corps, serving from 1962 to 1966. After his military service, Seckler moved back to the Midwest and drove a cement truck. He began airbrushing during his spare time, specializing in painting motorcycles, Schaeffer said.
Later into his career, Seckler traveled and found himself in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, according to Schaeffer. Seckler spent 10 years traveling back and forth between Florida and Illinois, expanding his work into offshore race boats.
As the 1980s turned into the '90s, Seckler decided to go to Prescott, Arizona, and then Las Vegas, Nevada, Shaeffer said.
"I got settled into Vegas, I spent weekends with my mother and sister and then they would come and visit. I became a single parent and the only thing I could think of was how I wanted to bring my son around my family," Seckler said.
Having no connections in Las Vegas and living in his van, Seckler set up shop at a window tinting business, agreeing to give them a third of his profits. He soon started airbrushing campers at for a nearby RV dealer, Schaeffer said.
"It took a while for me to get work, but with the RV dealer across the street I started to get a lot of business. I had some rough times. I went without a phone for six months and I just got an apartment at the time. I got a home and went through stuff with banks and I had a lot of ups and downs," Seckler said.
At one point Seckler ran a crew of 30 scenic artists painting murals and faux finishing casino walls.
"Some of my favorite pieces or jobs I've done was for the night clubs in the '50s and '60s in the Chicago area. I did one in Milwaukee, too, and they were some of the world's largest. They wanted cruiser scenes which was one of my favorite things to paint. I also did the tables, and did 10 to fifteen a night," Seckler said.
More than 40 years later, Seckler still lives and works in Las Vegas. Over the years, he has continued painting motorcycles, cars, trucks, vans, boats, walls and more. He is also accomplished at painting with a pallet knife, sculpting with chainsaws, sculpting masks and making jewelry with a combination of metals, according to Schaeffer.
"My advice to artists is to learn marketing or get someone who can market your art. That was one of the things I struggled with. Also learn the internet, you're free on the internet and can get your work out around the world. It's a whole new world," Seckler said.
"He's an indomitable spirit determined to live his life on his terms and succeed through art," Schaeffer said.
Alexis Ochi, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7213
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