I knew Eric (Erik) Schnickwald when I was an undergraduate student in music (at U. Mass. Boston). My landlord, Antonio Giarraputo (a very fine poet of verse in English, Italian, and French, and teacher at the Boston Latin School), was a patron of Schnickwald, buying many of his canvasses. My fear is that when Giarraputo sold his home in Union Park, Boston, he may have abandoned the works. (I do not know that, just fear it.) Schnickwald’s art was of very high artistic calibre, but of quite disturbing subject matter. His paintings dealt with death, fire, and blood, often together! They were so redolent of “Satanism” that I usually had to pass them, where they were hung in the stairway and landings of Giarrauputo’s magnificent staircase, averting my eyes from them. They would make me, to say the least of it, very uneasy. However, I often did stop to look at them more closely, admiring Schnickwald’s painting technique. The man himself was strange and rather perverse (gay, among other things), but handsome in a hauntingly eerie sort of way, or, rather, was a “Satanically pretty” young man.
The last that I knew of Eric (Erik) Schnickwald, he was working in kitchens of lower-class restaurants in Boston (in the South End, I assume), washing dishes or doing other menial work. He told me, when I encountered him by chance after I returned to Boston from my studies in Kent, Ohio (at Kent State University), that he had abandoned the practice of art. He was even more depressed than earlier, had gained weight, getting paunchy, and had lost the fey beauty of his years as an artist.
Although his paintings inspire terror, horror, and revulsion, they exhibited a real artistic genius and fine technic. His art really ought to be (or to have been) preserved for posterity. He was a lone eccentric in American art, but one worthy of fame, which he never attained. (I cannot even find one single reference to him on the World Wide Web.)