A founder of the Woodstock Artists Association and the Long Boat Key Art Center in Sarasota, Chase studied at the Art Students League in 1909. He was based in New York and Nantucket, starting on India Street but for a time living as a tenant of his good friend Tony Sarg at North Liberty Street. He moved his base camp often; for instance, to the Linden Cottage in Monomoy for the summer of 1927. He also had a studio on Old North Wharf. Long considered the Dean of the early Nantucket artists colony, he taught painting classes for more than thirty years on island beginning in the summer of 1920. He joined the AAN in 1948. In 1953 the AAN hosted a special exhibit of thirty of his canvases. He stopped working on island at about that time.
When pinpointing a starting date for Nantucket as a true art colony, all roads lead back to Frank Swift Chase, an oil painter long considered the dean of Nantucket artists. Chase, who had been assistant director of the Art Students League summer school at the Byrdcliffe arts and crafts colony in Woodstock, New York, made an initial teaching trip to the island in 1920 and returned nearly every summer into the early 1950s to teach and paint. He worked out of several studios over the years, including the #3 studio in Barnsite on Straight Wharf, a property owned by Florence Lang and the Island Service Company. A number of artists summered on Nantucket in order to study with Chase, and a talented group of women students emerged from Chase’s landscape-painting classes to dominate the local art scene in the 1930s and 1940s. They became his true legacy: Elizabeth Saltonstall, Anne Ramsdell Congdon, Millicent Clapp, Rae Carpenter, Lois Wing Burrell, Sue Cory Guenther, Emily Hoffmeier, Ruth Haviland Sutton, Isabelle Hollister Tuttle, and others. At the invitation of Saltonstall, he joined the AAN in June 1948 as an exhibiting member and juror for special exhibitions. When his time on Nantucket was shortened by age and illness, the AAN held solo exhibitions for Chase in 1953 and 1954 at the Kenneth Taylor Galleries.