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 Kathleen Parks Gemberling Dewerker Adkison  (1917 - 2010)

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Lived/Active: Washington/Nebraska      Known for: abstract expressionist painting, teaching

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Kathleen A. Gemberling is primarily known as Kathleen Parks Gemberling Dewerker Adkison

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Kathleen Parks GemberlingVan Dewerker Adkison (1917 ~ 2010)

Kathleen Gemberling Adkison peacefully passed on to the next level August 3rd at the age of 93 in Spokane.  She was born Kathleen Parks on July 5, 1917 in Beatrice, Nebraska to Rupert Parks and Henrietta Williamson.  She attended Hawthorn High School in Kearney, Nebraska for 3 years, moved to Seattle in 1930 and there graduated from Garfield High School.  She had a passion for painting and studied art with Leon Derbyshire at Cornish Institute between 1938 and 1942.  In 1942 Dr. Richard E. Fuller, founder of the Seattle Art Museum, curated her first museum exhibition and introduced Kathleen to Mark Tobey.  She continued to study privately with Tobey and also with Morris Graves from 1942 to 1948. 

In 1948 she and her new family moved to Spokane but she continued to study art in Seattle, returning frequently by train for her ongoing lessons.  She was an instructor at the Washington State University Extension Service in Spokane from 1953 to 1962, a Visiting Professor of Art at Gonzaga University in 1967-68 and provided countless hours of private class instruction in the Spokane art community throughout her lifetime. 

The first of 22 solo exhibitions in Seattle was in 1957 at Woessner Gallery.  From 1963 on, she was represented by Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Gallery of Seattle where she had 20 solo exhibitions.  Kathleen received numerous art museum surveys of her work during her lifetime, including Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in 1963, 1974 and 1999; Eastern Washington State College in 1967; Washington State University in 1960; Whatcom Museum of Bellingham, Wash. in 1996 and Seattle Art Museum in 1962.  She also participated in group exhibitions across the state and nation, including Northwest Annuals at the Seattle Art Museum; Western Washington State Fair; Henry Art Gallery, UW; Frye Art Museum; as well as in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, Colorado, California, Texas and Ohio.  She was among only eight women included in "Northwest Art Today" at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

Her abstract landscapes grew out of her love of mountain climbing, trekking and hiking. She climbed to the Mt. Everest base camp twice and traveled to England, Canada, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Tibet, Sikkim, Egypt and Greece after she married architect Thomas Adkison in 1968, founder of ALSC Architects in Spokane.  Adkison's paintings were acquired by Boise Art Museum; Butler Institute (Ohio); Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture; Frye Art Museum; Jundt Art Museum, Gonzaga U.; University of Oregon Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum; Tacoma Art Museum; Hallie Ford Art Museum, Willamette U.; and Whitman College, among others. 

Her work is included in numerous private collections as well as significant public and corporate collections including the Seattle First National Bank; Pacific Northwest Bell; Boeing Company; North Coast Life Insurance Co.; Pacific Gas Transmission Co.; and Lincoln Mutual Savings Bank.  She also received numerous national awards from leading art galleries and museums including the Las Vegas Art Gallery; El Paso Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum; Henry Gallery; and the Butler Institute. 

Her work was written about extensively in newspapers and journals in Spokane and Seattle, as well as Art in America, Architectural Digest, San Francisco Chronicle and Calgary Herald.   Her children, Helen Braden and John Van Dewerker and four grandchildren, Mary, David, Ann, John and many great grandchildren as well as countless friends and associates in the professional art community, survive Kathleen.  She will be missed but her spirit will survive for all to enjoy in her glorious paintings.

The family gives sincere thanks Mr. Mathew Kangas of Seattle for his contribution to the historical content of this announcement.

Obituary. Published in The Seattle Times on October 3, 2010


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Kathleen Gemberling Adkison (1917-2010)

Kathleen Gemberling Adkison was one of the first American artists to abandon easels and traditional brushwork in favor of applying paint directly to canvases set on the floor.  She learned this radical approach from her primary teacher, Mark Tobey.  For his part, Tobey, while living in Seattle, had developed these techniques in an effort to produce paintings inspired by Oriental calligraphy.

Kathleen Gemberling was born July 5, 1917 in Beatrice, Nebraska.  In 1936 her family moved to Seattle, where she attended West Seattle High School and began private art lessons with realist painter Leon Berbyshire.

From 1946-1950, she studied in Seattle with both Morris Graves and Mark Tobey, though it was Tobey whom she considered to be her most influential teacher.

Adkison (her married name) soon moved on to Spokane, Washington, where she set up a studio in the basement of her home. There, she stretched and primed canvases, laid them out on the floor, and poured, spattered, brushed, pooled and dripped paint on them to achieve her naturalistic effects.  She also used the more traditional technique of encaustic, or hot-wax painting, to lend greater depth and luminosity to her oils.

While Ms. Gemberling Adkison always accepted the label of abstract expressionist, she insisted that her artistic inspiration was rooted in nature, “its mystery, its surprise, its cycle of growth,” as she told agents at one of the Seattle art galleries that represent her.  This genesis is reflected in the titles that she consistently gave her works, such as New Season, Basalt Event, Winter Retreat and Crystalline Face.  To find that inspiration she loved to observe nature in depth, taking long hiking and back-packing trips in Asia, Europe and around the United States.

Ms. Gemberling Adkison’s first gallery show was at Zoe Dusanne Gallery in Seattle in 1958.  Her first one-person exhibition was at Washington State University in 1960.  The Seattle Art Museum presented her work in 1962, in a show curated by its founder and director Richard E. Fuller.  Also in 1962, Adkison’s piece Change-Over was displayed at the Seattle World’s Fair exhibition.

Many years later, after a full career of museum and gallery shows and various awards, her work was presented in a 1999 retrospective at the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture in Spokane.  Her work was also included in the 2005 exhibition titled "Northwest Matriarchs of Modernism: 12 Proto-feminists from Oregon and Washington," at the Schneider Museum of Art, Southern Oregon University.  As recently as 2009, her work was included in a group show at Gonzaga University.

Ms. Gemberling Adkison’s work is held by many art museums, including the Seattle Art Museum, the Butler Institute of American Art, the Museum of Northwest Art, the Frye Art Museum, the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Boise Art Museum and the Museum of Northwest Arts and Culture.  Her work is also held in numerous public, corporate and private collections, including the Washington State Capital Museum in Olympia.

Ms. Gemberling Adkison continued painting well into the first decade of the 21st century.  She passed away on August 3, 2010 in Spokane, Washington.
 
Sources include:
Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Gallery, Seattle
Butler Institute of American Art
Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture
World and I Journal, 4/1997, article #15507
Domenico Mattozzi, Art Conservator

Compiled and written by Robert E. Burns, researcher and collector.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from John S. Van Dewerker, son of the artist:

Kathleen's name changes include:
Kathleen A. Parks birth-1937
Kathleen A. Van Dewerker 1938-1954
Kathleen A. Gemberling 1955-1966
Kathleen A. Gemberling-Adkison 1967-1980
Kathleen A. Adkison 1980-2010
 
She dropped the Kathleen and used only Gemberling in 1966 because she perceived being a female may be a disadvantage.

She used Kathleen Gemberling-Adkison 1967 until about 1980; then used only Adkison.

He last husband, Tomas R. Adkison, was a well known Spokane Architect who designed World Expo site in 72.

With Mark Tobey, she was his first female student and his last living student. During the time she spent with Tobey, 1942-1952, her last name was Van Dewerker. In fact, he called her Kathyrn, not Kathleen. Prior to Tobey, when she studied with Leon Derbyshire 1937-42; she was also a Van Dewerker.

Thus far the museums I have confirmed that hold Kathleen's work in their permanent collections include:

Seattle Art Museum
Museum of Arts and Culture (Spokane)
Northwest Museum of Art (La Conner)
Tacoma Art Museum
University of Puget Sound
Museum of Nebraska Art
Butler Institute of Art (Youngstown)
New Britain Connecticut Museum of Art
Boise Art Museum (Idaho)
Charles and Emma Frye Museum (Seattle)
Jundt Art Museum, Gonzaga University (Spokane)
Willamette University Hallie Library


Biography from Museum of Nebraska Art:
Kathleen Gemberling Adkison was born Kathleen Parks on July 5, 1917 in Beatrice, Nebraska. She attended High School in Kearney, Nebraska for three years, moved to Seattle in 1930 and there graduated from Garfield High School.  She had a passion for painting and studied portraiture, figure and still life art with Leon Derbyshire at the Cornish Institute of Art between 1938 and 1942.

In 1942 Dr. Richard E. Fuller, founder of the Seattle Art Museum, curated her first museum exhibition and introduced Kathleen to Mark Tobey.  She continued to study privately with Mark Tobey and Morris Graves from 1942 to 1948; she was Tobey's first female student and his last living protégé.  In 1948 she and her new family moved to Spokane, but she continued to study art in Seattle.  She was also inspired by Jackson Pollock and Clyfford Still; she refined their techniques into her own flat canvas paint application methods beginning in the 1950's.

Kathleen maintained contact with Tobey by handwritten letters until at least 1952.  She kept five of his original letters and a Morris Graves gift, his pencil drawing Sacred Baboon, signed and dated 1937. 

She was an instructor at the YMCA art department while in Seattle and again in Spokane in 1948.  She continued there until joining Washington State University Extension Service in Spokane in 1953, staying until 1962.  She was a Visiting Professor of Art at Gonzaga University in 1967-68 and provided countless hours of private class instruction in the Spokane art community throughout her lifetime. 

The first of 22 solo exhibitions in Seattle was in 1957 at Woessner Gallery.  From 1963 on, she was represented by Gordon Woodside/John Braseth Gallery of Seattle where she had 20 solo exhibitions.  Kathleen received numerous art museum surveys of her work during her lifetime, including Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in 1963, 1974 and 1999; Eastern Washington State College in 1967; Washington State University in 1960; Whatcom Museum of Bellingham, Wash. in 1996 and Seattle Art Museum in 1962.

She also participated in group exhibitions across the state and nation, including Northwest Annuals at the Seattle Art Museum; Western Washington State Fair; Henry Art Gallery, UW; Frye Art Museum; as well as in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, Colorado, California, Texas, Ohio and Japan. She was among only eight women included in "Northwest Art Today" at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. She displayed her work in three world fairs including Seattle, Spokane and Osaka, Japan.

Her abstract expressionist landscapes grew out of her love of mountain climbing, trekking and hiking. She climbed to the Mt. Everest base camp twice and traveled to England, Canada, Nepal, India, Bhutan, Tibet, Sikkim, Egypt and Greece after she married architect Thomas Adkison in 1968, founder of ALSC Architects in Spokane. 

Adkison's paintings were acquired by Boise Art Museum; Butler Institute (Ohio); Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture; Frye Art Museum; Jundt Art Museum, Gonzaga U.; University of Oregon Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum; Tacoma Art Museum; Hallie Ford Art Museum, Willamette U.; Whitman College, and the University of Puget Sound, among others.

Her work is included in numerous private collections as well as significant public and corporate collections including the Seattle First National Bank; Pacific Northwest Bell; Boeing Company; North Coast Life Insurance Co.; Pacific Gas Transmission Co.; and Lincoln Mutual Savings Bank.  She also received numerous national awards from leading art galleries and museums including the Las Vegas Art League; El Paso Museum of Art; Seattle Art Museum; Henry Gallery; and the Butler Institute. Her work was written about extensively in newspapers and journals in Spokane and Seattle, as well as Art in America, Architectural Digest, San Francisco Chronicle and Calgary Herald. 

From information provided by John S. Van Dewerker, son of the artist.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.
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