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 Orpha Mae Klinker  (1891 - 1964)

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Lived/Active: California/Iowa      Known for: adobe landmarks, desert scenes, portrait painting, illustration

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Orpha Ooley is primarily known as Orpha Mae Klinker

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Orpha Mae Klinker
An example of work by Orpha Ooley
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
 Orpha Klinker's natural talent for art even appeared in her kindergarten days. She graduated from Polytechnic High School, L.A. and later studied at U.C.L.A. Art School and at the Cannon Art School. Artists Paul Lauritz and Anna A. Hills of Laguna Beach, were her first art teachers. She continued her study of art at the Julian and Colarossi  Academies in Europe.
Some of her earliest work was in designing. Many pages of her fine pen work drawings appeared in Los Angeles newspapers, illustrating the fashions of the day, not only in clothes but in furniture and other things. Then for a time she did her work in New York City and later with the Ladies Home Journal in Philadelphia.

One of her first projects with which Orpha impressed the public was a notable series of her large color portraits of California pioneers in the L.A.TIMES under the heading of "Speaking Of Pioneers." This led to another series on landmarks and famous tales of early California including oil paintings of historic adobes, buildings and trees of California.

From the Mexican border to Death Valley she roamed, meeting and painting portraits of such characters as Death Valley Scotty, Shoshone Johnny, the ancient Indian who supposedly saw the first white man come to Death Valley, Emanuel A. Speegle, "The Last of the 49'ers" (over 90 years of age) and others.

Orpha was active in keeping alive the memory of one historical event in particular, the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga ending the Mexican War with California in 1847. At the site of the signing in North Hollywood, there is now a large memorial building, The Campo de Cahuenga, containing Orpha's paintings and oil portraits of the signers, Col. John C. Fremont and Jose Antonio Carrillo. She was vice president of the Campo de Cahuenga Association and was one of the best qualified and most genuinely interested historical painters in California.
She is also noted for her oil paintings and portraits. She painted John H. Francis, founder and first principal of Polytechnic High School, L. A., Miss Mary Foy, first teacher and librarian of Los Angeles High School, and Dr. Joseph Widney, first president of U.S.C. and founder of its Medical School.

She painted many famous and socially prominent people including Mrs. Alfonso E. Bell, founder with her husband of Bel Air, California; Madame Caroline Severance, founder of the first two Women's Clubs in the United States (the Boston Woman's Club and the Friday Morning Club in Los Angeles); the famous humorist Will Rogers; the early movie star, Miss Claire Windsor; comedian Edgar Bergen and his daughter Candice; and many others.

Orpha was commissioned to paint a very large portrait of one of the earlier mayors of Los Angeles while he was in office, Mayor Frank E. Shawl. This portrait still hangs in the Los Angeles City Hall.

She also did outstanding work as an illustrator, illustrating such books as Artists of the Desert and the Enchanted Pueblo by Ed Ainsworth of the L. A. TIMES, and many other books.

In addition to all this, she designed some 150 china plates depicting historical events and landmarks of principal cities of the United States, Alaska and Hawaii. They are now collectors' items as her beautiful oil paintings and etchings are fast becoming.

Early in 1964 she had an exhibit at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and she was honored in 1963 by the Los Angeles City Council with an especially designed scroll and also again after her untimely death in 1964, at which time she was vice president of the California Art Club, an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Fine Arts and was on the board of The Artists of the Southwest. She had also been president of The Women Painters of the West for three terms.

In addition to her achievements in the United States, Orpha Klinker has been honored in France, Belgium, Mexico and India. Her paintings are in the collections of the late Winston Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and her scenic and flower oil paintings grace the walls of lovely homes and art galleries all over the Western world.

Lawrence J. Canton and Company

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter of the California and Southwestern desert, Orpha Klinker had a long list of accomplishments as a Los Angeles artist and was also a recognized portrait, historical and pioneer genre painter.

She was of German and English heritage and was born in Fairfield, Iowa, and then lived briefly on a 360 acre farm near New Sharon.  Her father was a minister of the Christian Church, and through an exchange of ministries, he took his family to Chico in Northern California when she was a tiny child, and shortly after that to San Bernardino where her father founded three churches.

Growing up in that area, she loved the desert country and took an interest in the history and traditions of California.  She had early art talent, which was encouraged by her mother.  Orpha began her career cutting silhouettes for the May Company in Los Angeles when she was 12 years old and then went into furniture ad art with her work appearing in many newspaper advertisements.

She studied at the U.C.L.A. Art School and Cannon Art School and with Paul Lauritz and Anna Althea Hills, her first private teacher. She also became an art teacher, did silhouettes of movie stars, and created "Betty Bobbs" paper dolls. She attended the Julian and Colarossi Academies in Paris, went to New York and did illustration, and then to Philadelphia where she worked for the "Ladies Home Journal."

Returning to the West, she pursued through her art her combined interests in the desert and history.  Her family became a part of this history, owning the Klinker Building, regarded as the first skyscraper Los Angeles.  She did a series of portraits and talks titled "Speaking of Pioneers," and her research led her far afield into deserts of California, Utah, and Arizona where she painted the Grand Canyon.  One of her portraits was of the last of the "49ers," Emanuel Speegle.  She also did a series of historical scenes on china plates, now collectors' items and in 1939 designed the official seal of Los Angeles county.  She did etchings of the desert, her chief source of inspiration.

She was a member of the California Art Club and the Women Painters of the West. Her studio was in her home atop the Hollywood Hills, and she worked for preservation causes including saving the stone home of Charles Lummis, noted writer and founder of the Southwest Museum.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Fairfield, IA on Nov. 20, 1891. The Klinker family moved to San Bernardino, CA when Orpha was a child. After graduating from Polytechnic High School, she studied art at UCLA, Cannon Art School, and continued in Paris at Académies Julian and Colarossi. After a year abroad, she worked in New York and Philadelphia before returning to California in 1925.

She was married briefly to Wm Ooley (1921-23) and Cliff Carpenter (1932-36). Working in commercial art until middle age, she then stopped to concentrate on fine art. The subjects of her etchings and paintings include still lifes, portraits, California landmarks, and desert scenes.

Honors awarded her are: Academician, American Int'l Academy, Washington, DC; Fellow, Andhra Research University of India (1940); Belgium's Crois de Commandeur (1941);

Member of Nat'l Academy of Mexico (1944); Gold Medal, University of Panama (1945); Member of Society of Fine Arts of Brazil (1948). She exhibited nationally, lectured on early California, and by 1959 had illustrated many books including Enchanted Pueblo. Klinker lived in Hollywood, CA until her death on May 23, 1964.

Member: Society of American Graphic Artists; Calif. Society of Etchers; Laguna Beach AA; LA AA.

Exh: Calif. State Fair, 1930; Women Painters of the West, 1934-44; Friday Morning Club (LA), 1934; USC, 1935; Calif.-Pacific Int'l Expo (San Diego), 1935; LA City Hall, 1935, 1938 (solos); Calif. Art Club, 1936; Ebell Salon (LA), 1937, 1955; Chamber of Commerce (Santa Paula), 1938; GGIE, 1939; Southwest Museum (LA), 1940 (solo); SWA, 1944; Artists of the Southwest (LA), 1948.

In: City Hall (LA); Polytechnic High School (LA); MM.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Who's Who in American Art 1938-62; Who's Who in California 1942; Artists of the American West (Samuels); Women Artists of the American West; Southern California Artists (Nancy Moure); Los Angeles Times, 5-25-1964 (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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