CM: Frederick W. Sleight (1918-1980), born on 29 October 1918 in Corning , New York, became a graduate of the University of Arizona in 1941 - his major field was anthropology with an emphasis on primitive art and he held minors in structural geology and astronomy. He furthered his studies at the University of Michigan, but the Second World War interrupted his graduate work. He was a reserve officer in the Navy during the War and, in conjunction with his naval training, completed work at the Graduate School of Administration at Harvard. After the War, he did anthropological field work in Mexico, Guatemala, the West Indies, Alaska, South America, Spain, Morocco and the United States, and held interpretive posts in museum technology. He held a post at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's department of Egyptian Art. He served as consultant in museum technology for the Natioanl Park Service and for the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, and specialist in exhibit preparation at the Arizona State Museum. Later he served as consultant in museum development for the international Oceanographic Foundation in Miami and at the Atmospherium-Plantarium in Reno. He was director of Central Florida Museum in Orlando and at the same time taught anthropology at Rollins College in Winter Park. The author of many published works in archaeological journals and periodicals, Sleight lectured in Latin America, Europe and the United States. He was also a guest lecturer for World Explorer Cruises for four years. At the time of his death in 1980, he was writing a book about the geology of the Coachella Valley.
Sleight passed away at age 62 on 20 November 1980, after suffering his third heart failure in about a year. News of his death was carried on the front page of 'The Desert Sun', with remarks from some of the community leaders who worked with him, including H. Earl Hoover, museum board of trustees president. "He left us a professional organization," said Hoover. "He was creative, a superb fundraiser. He took a relatively small operation and turned it into a large one. He trained staff professionally. And the museum will go on as a tribute to him." Ever since his passing, a gallery in the museum was named after him.
The present work is Frances Rich's plaster mold for the bronze Bust Portrait of Frederick W. Sleight, currently in the Palm Springs Art Museum. Sleight was director for 15 years since 1965 of the modest pre-1976 museum. Thanks to his vision and fundraiding skills, the people of Coachella Valley welcomed the opening of the 75,000 square foot Palm Springs Art Musuem in 1976. This bust evokes Sleight as the multi-discipline scholar he was, and as the mover and shaker behind the creation of the museum in its present state. In his first 10 years with the Palm Springs Museum, Sleight guided its growth and expansion, including construction of the complex at the base of Mount San Jacinto. His leadership was acknowledged at the opening ceremonies of the New Desert Museum. Leonore Annenberg, then president of the museum's board of trustees, described Sleight as "the spark plug" behind the museum's $5.5 Million dollar facility. Sleight organized The Sculpture of Frances Rich retrospective exhibition at Palm Springs Desert Museum in 1969. In the accompanying catalogue Sleight wrote: "The search for truth in the beauty and form of the human figure is the constant and and ever-expanding quest of Frances Rich. With drive, energy and inspiration she continues to reach new avenues of insight." Between 28 January and 6 March 1977 Sleight presented The Frances Rich Sculpture Show, focusing largely on portraiture.