Editor's note: This biographical compilation is reprinted with the permission of the author, Jane Meyer. The text was submitted to Resource Library Magazine on December 1, 2001. We are grateful to Rebecca Krehbiel Ryan, Albert Krebhiel's granddaughter, for introducing us to Ms. Meyer. Images are not included with the text.
Dulah Marie Evans (Dulah Evans Krehbiel) 1875-1951: American Painter, Illustrator and Printmaker
by Jane Meyer
Dulah Marie Llan Evans was born on February 17th, 1875, to pioneer residents of Oskaloosa, Iowa, David and Marie Ogg Evans. She was brought up (along with her sister, Mayetta, and two brothers, Walter and Carl) in a low rambling house of many rooms that was reminiscent of the homes of Llanidloe, Wales, the birth place of her father. David Evans, a well-educated man, was the architect and builder of the Evans Building, which stands to this day on the main street in Oskaloosa. Dulah's mother, Marie, came from an upper class family in Switzerland and was the driving force behind the education of her children. She was very gifted in the arts and encouraged her daughters, particularly, to pursue careers in creative fields.
Dulah attended Penn College and graduated from The Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied under John Vanderpoel and Frederick Richardson, among other prominent artists and art educators. Dulah completed her postgraduate work at the Art Students League in New York, where she won many first place awards in illustration classes under the instruction of Walter Appleton Clark. She also studied at the Charles Hawthorne School in Princeton, Massachusetts, and at the New York School of Art under William Merritt Chase.
This was the "Golden Age of Illustration" (1865-1917) and Dulah was part of it. She held a place in the prestigious Tree Studio building in Chicago from 1903 through 1905 along with other well-known artists such as Pauline Palmer, Walter Marshall Clute, Louis Betts, and sculptor Julia Bracken (Wendt), with whom she developed a close friendship. During these years, Dulah was working as an illustrator and free-lance commercial artist, creating images for the covers of magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, and Ladies' Home Journal.
Dulah also accepted commissions from Armour Food Company and Santa Fe Railroad, both headquartered in Chicago at the time. These commissions often took Dulah to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to photograph Native American subjects in their daily routines and performing ritualistic dances. Her friend, Harold Betts (brother of Louis Betts), was also in Santa Fe at the time painting the local scene. Many of Dulah's Southwest photographs would be used in later years as the subjects for her paintings, woodcuts, lithographs, and etchings. Dulah completed a series of three paintings related to The Deer Dance of the Tesuque Indians in 1905.
Dulah left the Tree Studio in 1906 to marry Albert Henry Krehbiel, a fellow classmate from The Art Institute of Chicago. Albert was awarded an American Traveling Scholarship from the Art Institute in 1903 and, having spent three years studying at Academie Julian in Paris and traveling and painting throughout Europe, had accepted a teaching position at the Institute in early 1906 while still overseas. In 1907, Albert reduced his schedule to teaching summer sessions only and undertook the awarded commission to design and paint the eleven wall and two ceiling murals for the Illinois Supreme Court Building in the state capitol of Springfield (the murals were completed in 1911). Dulah was Albert's only assistant, performing the duties of designing costumes, modeling, and conducting research on material pertinent to the theme of the murals. As with many husband and wife artists of the time, Dulah and Albert frequently painted together and often painted the same subject. They each had a high regard for the others work and Albert, unlike many men of his day, was proud of his wife's artistic career and success.
From 1910 through 1915, Dulah worked out of her new "Ridge Crafts Studio" in Park Ridge, Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago where she and Albert had purchased a lovely large home. Here, she created a line of exclusively designed cards and folders for all occasions. Most of these cards were hand-colored, engraved images, while others were hand-colored lithographs. A sample sales book of these cards is now in the collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Dulah's assistants, appropriately called the "Ridge Craft Girls", often pulled double duty as models for both Dulah's and Albert's paintings. However, nobody was asked to pose more than their beautiful baby boy, Evans Llan Krehbiel (their only child), born in 1914. A painting of Evans, appropriately titled Baby Krehbiel, was featured in the Chicago Daily Herald on March 14th, 1915.
During these early years in Park Ridge, Dulah and Albert were part of the Park Ridge Art Colony, founded by members of the faculty of the Art Institute. The colony's objective was to create a society that would work for the encouragement of artistic culture. As was stated in an article in The Saturday Evening Post (Chicago; July 6, 1912);
Among the distinguished members of the Park Ridge Art Colony were, Frederick Richardson, Louis Betts, sculptor John Paulding, James William Pattison, Beulah and Walter Marshall Clute, and various artists associated with the Kalo Studio, including its director, Clare Barck Welles
From 1917 through 1920, Dulah - traveling with Albert, Evans, and her sister, journalist and playwright, Mayetta Evans - spent summers painting in California at the Santa Monica Art Colony. Dulah's friend and fellow Tree Studio artist, Julia Bracken, had married William Wendt in 1906 and had moved to Los Angeles, becoming one of the city's foremost sculptors. By 1918, William Wendt had built a studio at Laguna Beach and California Impressionism was in full swing. Dulah's many paintings of her son and sister posing along the beach reflected this style.
One such work, Santa Monica Bay, was exhibited at the Arts Club of Chicago in 1923, where Dulah was a founding member. She would return to Santa Monica many times, often after having spent the initial summer months at the Art Colony of Santa Fe in New Mexico, which was started by Alice Corbin Henderson, editor of the magazine Poetry, and wife of Chicago artist William Penhallow Henderson. In 1927, Dulah visited fellow artist B.J.O. Nordfeldt at his studio in Santa Fe, where she and her sister bought ten of his paintings to sell in Chicago. On this trip she took photographs of the studios of several Taos artists, including those of Ernest Blumenschein and Gerald Cassidy, as well as photographs of the home of Mabel Dodge Luhan.
It was in California that Dulah began painting in the modernist style. She created works that were more introspective in nature and which had spiritual overtones. She became interested in the organization of multiple figures, often using groupings of three (perhaps to reveal a spiritual synthesis) in surrealistic mountain landscapes. Dulah created different tensions with each canvas by the placement of subject figures in positions juxtaposed to their rocky surroundings. Regarding her work, Polama Valley, Hi Simons, critic for The Arts section of The Touchstone Magazine (Brooklyn, New York; 1922), wrote:
Dulah created her first etchings relating to the Southwest in 1927. These works bare a strong resemblance in style and composition those created by Nordfeldt. Dulah's Southwest prints were sold in the Albert Roullier Galleries in Chicago and were often featured in Chicago newspapers. Dulah's lithograph, Indian Home, Laguna Pueblo, was featured in an article in the Chicago Evening Post Magazine of the Art World on September 6th, 1927, and the woodcut, The Mission at Laguna, was featured in an article in the same newspaper on September 13th, 1927. (Indian Home, Laguna Pueblo, was exhibited at the Chicago Arts Club that same year.)
Dulah left Park Ridge for New York City in 1930, hoping to further her career as a modernistic painter. It appears that she was successful in establishing a market for her artwork there at the Salons of America and the Society of Independent Artists. Dulah's stay in New York was short, however, as she and her sister were called to Iowa to attend to the severe damage that a tornado had caused to the Evans Building. It took a full year for the sisters to complete the repairs.
Returning to her Park Ridge home and her studio (now called "Studio Place") in 1932, Dulah persevered in creating her ethereal landscapes throughout the decade and beyond. Dulah's Mountain of the Blue Moon done in 1924 and Waterfalls done in 1924 are shown below. Representative of the time in which Dulah lived, her sketchbook from the 1940's includes two drawings that were most likely designed for posters relating to the theme of war.
From the early 1920s through the 1940s, Dulah exhibited at the Arts Club of Chicago with other well-known artists, including Pauline Palmer and Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, and at The Art Institute of Chicago with Gerald Cassidy, Jessie Wilcox Smith, Edgar Payne, and J. Alden Weir. As if to reflect the diversity of her art, throughout her career, Dulah signed her works as Dulah Marie Evans, Dulah Llan Evans, and as Dulah Evans Krehbiel.
Dulah's first grandchild arrived in 1950, bringing much joy in what was to be her last year. The Park Ridge Modernist, as Dulah had become known, died at the age of 76 on July 24th, 1951, in Evanston, Illinois. Dulah had managed to keep her creative independent spirit alive throughout the years of the Great Depression and two World Wars. Her spirit lives on in the artwork she created, from her early charming illustrations, her Southwest Native American etchings and paintings, and her colorful impressionistic figurative works and California beach scenes, to her self-revealing modernist landscapes. In Dulah, we get the sense of a woman of humor, of spirit, and a woman ahead of her time, strong in her own convictions, and remaining true to herself and her art. Dulah's impressionistic work, Three Ladies at an Open Window, was selected in 2001 for the permanent collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
The following is a partial list of exhibitions of the works of Dulah Evans Krehbiel:
About the author:
Jame Meyer is the principal of Jane Meyer Fine Art. She may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 11/28/11
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