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 Helen Gapen Oehler  (1893 - 1979)

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Lived/Active: California/Illinois      Known for: land-and seascape painting, scenes from global travels

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Ad Code: 4
Helen Gapen Oehler
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Helen Gapen Oehler (1893-1979)

Best known for her landscapes, seascapes, views of nature as well as paintings of scenes from global travel, Oehler is considered a progressive impressionist.  She painted in the world, Midwest and eastern coast, some California.

Helen Gapen Oehler was born in 1893 in Ottawa Illinois.  She was bright and at an early began to paint. Helen Oehler attended and graduated from the University of Illinois in art and teaching and was in the Chi Omega sorority.  She then went on to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she graduated with honors.  She added further studies in New York, Provincetown, Cape Cod and with Jules Lefevre in Paris.  She first met George Elmer Browne, artist and teacher and National Academician, at the School of the Chicago Art Institute and went on to work in his studios in New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts.  She went and studied with George Elmer Browne in his studios in New York and Provincetown, Mass.

Helen Gapen met Arnold Oehler in the late 19020's and they were married in Chicago in 1930.  They moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where she had her first studio.  Later they moved back to Chicago and she was an art teacher  from 1942-1951 in the Chicago area.  She and Arnold moved to Connecticut and the New Jersey area in the 1950's.  She had a Connecticut studio and began to sell her art to patrons in Cape Cod, New York, Provincetown and New Jersey.  During her years in New Jersey she became active in art society's and eventually became the Director of the Art Council of New Jersey.

In the late 1950's, Helen Gapen Oehler moved to Mt. Tamalpais in Mill Valley, California, and became an active part of the Marin County art community and Audobon artists for approximately 15 years prior to retiring to her Carmel Studio 195 at Hacienda Carmel near the Monterey peninsula.  She died surrounded by family and friends in 1979.

Commentary from the Curator of the Artist Associates from her solo exhibition program of 1972:

"The merit of Helen Gapen Oehler as a versatile and esteemed artist, for the past quarter century, has been continually honored by complimentary mention in the annals of authoritive reference including  Who's Who of American Artists and mentioned in over 7 books of American impressionist painters of the early 19th century.

Her paintings in oil can be identified by their decisive vigor in stroke and the fine understanding of full bodies color. It has been said by many artists that the works of Helen Gapen Oehler honor their subject matter with a rich glow that seems to emerge from the canvas, and one may perceive that this effect has been skillfully attained by a generous use of well understood media."

Memberships and Exhibitions:
American Artists Professional League
American Watercolor Society
Allied Artists of America
Audubon Artists
New Jersey Water Color Society
Painters and Sculptor of New Jersey
Ridgewood Art Association
National League of American Penwomen
Asbury Society of Fine Arts
National Association of Women Artists
Provincetown Art Association
Artists Associates of America
Mill Valley Artists
Society of Western Artists

Exhibition and Prizes:
National Academy of Design, New York
Salon D'Automne of Paris
Salon des Artistes Francais, Paris.
High Museum, Atlanta Georgia
Art Institute of Dayton Ohio
Findley Galleries, Chicago
Contemporary Arts World's Fair
1945 World Fair, Prize for the Smithy series and Last Blacksmith in New England.
Federation of Arts Traveling Show of Washington DC
University of San Francisco
De Young Museum of San Francisco
Palace of Fine Arts of San Francisco
Walter P. Chrysler Permanent Collection
Anchorage Fine Arts Museum
The Hall of Justice in San Francisco
Carmel Valley Gallery
Perry House in Monterey
Pacific  Grove Art Center and Museum

Served the Art community in executive capacity:
National Director of American Art Week
New Jersey State Art Chairman
Vice President Audubon Artists
American Watercolor Society executive member of the board
Allied Artists of America-executive board member
Chairman, Artist Associates

Information provided by Mindy Oehler Bergman, the artist's niece.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Ottawa, Illinois on May 30, 1893, Helen Gapen graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later taught there as well as in the public schools of Ridgeville, Illinois.  By 1930 she was the wife of Arnold Oehler and living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

She painted and taught in New Jersey before moving to California about 1950. Settling on the Monterey Peninsula, she had a studio in Carmel and was active in the local art scene until her demise on Feb. 17, 1979.

Member: SWA; AAPL; American WC Society; Nat'l Ass'n of Women Artists; Audubon Society; League of American Pen Women; New Jersey WC Society; Ridgwood (NJ) AA; Carmel AA. Exh: Salon d'Automne (Paris), 1938; Salon des Artistes Francais, 1939; New York World's Fair, 1939; NAD, 1941, 1943; Mill Valley Outdoor Show, 1954.

In: Monterey Public Library.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Artists of the American West (Doris Dawdy); Who's Who in American Art 1938-78; Monterey Peninsula Herald, 2-19-1979 (obituary).
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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