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 Adrian J. Dornbush  (1900 - 1970)

About: Adrian J. Dornbush
 

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Lived/Active: Iowa/District Of Columbia      Known for: modernist regional landscape and portrait painting, teaching

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Ad Code: 4
Adrian J Dornbush
from Auction House Records.
Ozark Farm
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Studied at the Univ. of Wisconsin earning a BA in 1918, at the Univ. College of Liberal Arts, Wisconsin from1922-24, at the Univ. of Kansas, Lawrence from1928-29, and, for two years, overseas.  Taught art in the Dubuque, IA public school district from 1926-28.  He organized the Flint (MI) Institute of Art then was named director and a charter faculty member of the Anamosa art colony in 1932-33. Following the colony’s closing, he relocated to Des Moines and taught at the Art Students Workshop while handling numerous portrait commissions, mostly in watercolor.  In 1934, Dornbush became involved in the new Key West, FL Federal Emergency Relief Administration art experiment where he became the director/coordinator of the project and focused his efforts on developing regional tourism and national recognition of local artists. The Key West program was deemed a tremendous success and is seen as the precursor to the
national WPA art program that began in 1935.  Dornbush was then appointed to run the
Special Skills branch of the WPA's Resettlement Division that same year, a program
designed to employ artists in folk crafts, furniture design, and other native arts.  As a Washington-based coordinator, Dornbush supervised all federal artwork programs in the
Tennessee Valley area. He stayed with the division from 1939-1942 until World War II
caused the federal government to abandon arts funding to focus on the war effort.  Dornbush instituted National Art Week in 1940-42, and left Washington to become assistant director of the Resettlement Division, USDA Special Service Section, composed of artists and designers.

Member: Dubuque Art Assoc.; Chicago Society of Artists. Exhibitions: Des Moines Public Library, 1925; Chicago World’s Fair, the Iowa Art Salon.
Source:
SOURCES:
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
AskART, www.askart.com, accessed Oct. 15, 2007; Pamphlet file at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library in Washington, DC.
This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

Biography from George Stern Fine Arts:
Born in Holland, Adrian Dornbush pursued his education at the University of Wisconsin (BA, 1918), the University College of Liberal Arts, Wisconsin (1922, 1924), the University of Kansas (1928-29) and had two years of overseas studies.

Following his first solo exhibition at the Des Moines Public Library in 1925, he became an art teacher in the Dubuque, Iowa public school district from 1926-28. After being elected president of the Dubuque Art Association, he organized the Flint Institute of Art in Flint, Michigan.  Later, after resigning himself to the full-time life of a painter, Dornbush lectured at the Little Gallery in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he became friends with Edward Rowan, organizer of the Stone City Art Colony.

Dornbush was named director and a charter faculty member of the Anamosa Art Colony in 1932-33.  Following the colony’s closing, he relocated to Des Moines and taught at the Art Students Workshop while handling numerous portrait commissions, mostly in watercolor.  He exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair, the Iowa Art Salon, and won many prizes from the Iowa Artist Club and the Iowa Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Through his connection to Edward Rowan, Dornbush became involved in the new Key West, Florida Federal Emergency Relief Administration art experiment and moved to the area for eight months in 1934.  He became the director/coordinator of the project and focused his efforts on developing regional tourism and national recognition of local artists. The Key West program was deemed a tremendous success and is seen as the precursor to the national WPA art program that began in 1935. Dornbush was then appointed to run the Special Skills branch of the WPA's Resettlement Division that same year, a program designed to employ artists in folk crafts, furniture design, and other native arts.

As a Washington-based coordinator, Dornbush supervised all federal artwork programs in the Tennessee Valley area. He worked directly under Rowan, who had been recently appointed as associate director of the WPA, a division of the U.S. Treasury department.  He stayed with the division from 1939-1942 until World War II caused the federal government to abandon arts funding to focus on the war effort.

Dornbush instituted National Art Week in 1940-42, and left Washington to become assistant director of the Resettlement Division, USDA Special Service Section, composed of artists and designers.

He eventually moved to Puerto Rico, where he died in 1970.

--The Stone City Art Colony
Mount Mercy College, Des Moines, Iowa

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