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Friday, October 9, 2015
Fred Machetanz: "Panuck Eskimo Sled Dog"
With Homecoming season upon us, we decided to showcase the artistry of some of our old football program covers. Even better, some of the best were drawn by OSU alumni. One such artist was Fred Machetanz, an OSU alum. Between 1929, when he was still an undergrad, and 1942, Machetanz drew 37 football program covers.
Machetanz was born in Kenton, Ohio, in 1908, and he graduated from OSU with his bachelor’s degree in 1930. He earned a master’s degree in Fine Arts in 1935. He was also a member of Phi Kappa Psi, Scarlet Mask, and University Players.
Immediately after receiving his second degree, Machetanz went to visit his uncle in Alaska for short vacation. He loved the area so much, though, that he became a permanent resident, basing his artwork on the various scenes and people he saw. Shortly after arriving, he began making sketches, and he decided to illustrate a children’s book. He went to publishers in New York, only to be told that they wanted illustrations for a book about sky scrapers—if he wanted to do a book on Alaska, he would have to write it himself. Machetanz ended up publishing “Panuck, Eskimo Sled Dog,” the first of several books published for children about Alaska.
He served in the Navy during World War II, ending his service as a lieutenant commander in the Aleutian intelligence detail. He eventually made his home in Alaska, although he and his wife travelled the “Lower 48” extensively, showing documentaries and lecturing about their home state. Eventually, Machetanz became a full-time painter. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters at Ohio State’s Commencement ceremony in March 1984. He died at the age of 94 in 2002.