Sidney van Sheck

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Sidney William Jiroušek van Sheck (born c. 1896 in Czechoslovakia; died 1991) was an artist and aeronautical engineer.

Van Sheck was a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. During World War I, he served France as a combat pilot, but was shot down by a German ace over the French Alps in 1918, injuring his neck. After the war he studied aeronautical engineering and continued to produce commercial art and designs. He served as an instructor at the Sorbonne, and later at the Massachusetts School of Art in Boston.

Van Sheck and his wife, Frances, moved to Birmingham in 1931, where he took a job at Bechtel-McCone, helping with wing designs for the B-24 "Liberator" bomber. He remained active in the arts, and was hired as an applied arts instructor at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute in 1932. He designed "Youth's Strife in the Approach to Life's Problems", a large mural in the auditorium at Woodlawn High School in 1934 for the Works Progress Administration. Richard Blauvelt Coe executed the 70-foot wide by 8-foot tall mural between 1937 and 1939.

By the end of World War II Van Sheck and his second wife, former art student Grace had settled in Pacific Palisades, California where he worked with the Hughes Aircraft Corporation, contributing his skills to the B-29 "Superfortress" bomber, the Spruce Goose and other projects.

Van Sheck died in 1991. According to his wishes, his long-time friend and former Birmingham Post writer Esther Kelton scattered his ashes in the Pacific Ocean.


  • McGlauflin, Alice, editor. (1940) Who's Who in American Art: A Biographical Directory of Selected Artists in the United States Working in the Media of Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Arts, Illustration, Design, and Handicrafts. Washington D. C.: American Federation of Arts
  • Lopez, Barry (January 17, 2002) "A scary abundance of water" LA Weekly