BiographyRichard (Dick) Eugene Leet was born September 11, 1936, in Waterloo, Iowa. He earned his BA from the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls) in 1958 and an MA in 1965. From 1961-64 studied additionally with Stuart Edie and Robert Knipschild at the University of Iowa. He was an art instructor at Oelwein Community Schools (IA) from 1958-65, and taught painting and drawing at the Charles H. MacNider Museum in Mason City, Iowa from 1965-85. He was founding director and director of the MacNider from 1965 until his retirement in 2001. During his tenure the MacNider grew from a fledgling museum with half a dozen works to a respected professional institution with a collection of nearly 1000 pieces focused on American art.
Leet is known primarily as a watercolorist who interprets the Midwestern landscape and the dynamic relationship between the land and weather. His work has been included in numerous competitive, group and invitational shows, including the Annual Midyear Show, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH (1969, 75 & 77); Midwest Biennial, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NB (1972, 74 & 76); Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, MN (1980) Watercolor USA, Springfield Museum of Art, MO (1988 & 94); and the 57th Juried Exhibition, Sioux City Art Center, IA (2001). From 1995-97 a touring exhibition of his work, Richard Leet: Artist and Administrator, was shown at five Iowa locations, including Luther College (Sept. 15 – Nov. 2, 1997). His work can be found in several collections, including the Museum of Art, El Paso (TX); Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, Shawnee (OK); Waterloo Municipal Galleries (IA); the Des Moines Art Center (IA); and the Sioux City Art Center (IA). Awards include the Esther & Edith C. Younker Painting Award, Iowa Artist’s Show, Des Moines Art Center (1978); First Place (1988) and Second Place (1989), Annual Iowa Watercolor Society Exhibitions; and a Lifetime Distinguished Service Award from the Midwest Museum Conference (1995).
Leet has written of his work, "My paintings, in the form of landscapes or images derived from nature, reflect my appreciation for and curiosity about life and living, the forces of nature, and the energy that flows throughout the universe. They focus to some extent on the miracle of life, the cycles of natural phenomena, spiritual elements, and especially on the transitional state in which everything exists. Something of the Midwest is ingrained in all that I produce as I continue to seek out beauty - which I still believe to be one of the most positive influences on our lives."
Source of BiographyArtist’s Statement, Percival Galleries, Des Moines, IA (n.d.);
Thanks for the Memories, Iowa Arts Council News, Des Moines, IA, April 2001, pp. 2 & 5;
Who’s Who in American Art.