William Frederick Kaeser
- Marion County
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William Kaeser, husband to Mildred Kaeser, was born in Durlach, Germany but came to Indiana as a child, eventually settling in Irvington. He was a graduate of John Herron Art Institute and Indiana University and also studied in New York and Germany under teachers such as William Forsyth, Eliot O’Hara, and Frank Schoonover. He served as President of the Indianapolis Artist’s Club and the Indiana Federation of Art Clubs. He was also a member of the Indianapolis Press Club and the American Legion. Between 1937 and 1942, he was part of a group commissioned by the Treasury Department to paint murals in post offices all over the U.S. One of these murals that he painted can be seen at the Pendleton, Indiana post office.
Kaeser painted works that were reflective of the time period, showing subject matter of Midwestern scenes, people, and traditions. In particular, he was very fond of portraying the circus. He believed that Indiana artists should stick to Indiana-themed material. He also enjoyed painting plants and flowers, which can be seen in many of his works. His most famous, titled The Green Thumb was shown at the International Flower Show in New York. Further, Kaeser worked as a staff artist for the state in the Employment Security Division of Indiana, making pamphlets and publications. During this time he won a Presidential citation for inventing the “Employ the Physically Handicapped Symbol.” One of his most noteable achievements was during the end of the Great Depression, at which time he was given money by the WPA to initiate the project of organizing art classes at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center in downtown Indianapolis. With that money, he helped establish an art league, which is known today as the Indianapolis Art Center in Broad Ripple Village. When he formed this league, he met with students to host classes in the old governor’s mansion, Holiday Park, the carriage house of Elmer Tafflinger, and various barns and backyards.
He exhibited his work at the New York World’s Fair, the Carnegie Art Institute in Pittsburgh, the Corcoan Gallery, the Pennsylvania Academy for Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Hoosier Salon, and the National Gallery in Washington D.C.. Today, Kaeser’s paintings are on display at Indiana University, Indiana State University, Culver Military Academy, Methodist Children’s Home, Indianapolis Public Schools, and the Employment Security building.
Indianapolis Star Nov. 29, 1964, “William F. Kaeser” by Dorothy H. Weston; Nuvo 7/11-7/18 1996; IMA Library Artist Files
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