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 Kaffy Roulstone Reinhardt  (1918 - 1992)

/ RINE-hahrt/
About: Kaffy Roulstone Reinhardt


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Lived/Active: California/New York      Known for: plein-air landscape, portrait paintings

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Following is biography which combines text about the artist from the California Art Club website with text interwoven by Sara Elizabeth Reinhardt Ali, daughter of the artist.

Kaffy Reinhardt was born January 7, 1918. She studied art and graduated from the College of William and Mary in Virginia before marrying Benjamin M. Reinhardt in 1942. Together, they had three children, Dennis, Sara and Dixie. Later in life, she studied at the National Academy of Design (N.Y.C.), privately with Sergei Bongart and Theodore Lukits (L.A.), and Joe Mugnaini at Otis Art Institute (L.A.).

For 25 years, she maintained the Reinhardt Art Academy, a studio and traditional painting school for adults in Toluca Lake, CA. Other artists also taught classes within her school: Connie Marlow (portrait and still life), Rollin “Mike” Moulton (seascape), Jean Blanchard and Jake Lee (watercolor), and Bernie Atkins (architectural renderings).

She moved to Tustin and continued to teach locally as well as in the valleys north of Los Angeles, all the way down to weekly classes in San Diego. She entered numerous exhibits and won first prize at many of the shows she entered. Most of her early work in college included sculpture, oils, and watercolors, and few of these items remain today. Once she began to paint again, under the teaching of Sergei Bongart, her paintings flourished with an easy, flowing style of realism. Her portraits are un-rivalled in so many aspects.

Later, she took up china painting, and found most of her enthusiastic students wanted to learn this. She fired most of her own work in kilns, painting exclusively on Lenox.

Reinhardt often worked on portrait commissions (including one of a Mr. Blackwell) as well as mural commissions (Queen’s Arms Restaurant, Encino), works for television (Little House on the Prairie and Happy Days), and movies. She exhibited her work at the Huntington-Sheraton Hotel in Pasadena, where she also conducted classes.

She was the official artist for the Bi-Centennial project, the reconstruction of the sailing frigate President, being commissioned to paint portraits of all of the US Presidents, which were hung on board in the Presidential gallery when the ship was completed in 1976. Her most well-known work was a portrait of Robert F. Kennedy. Jr., which was presented to Ms. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in 1970.

Reinhardt served a year as First Vice President and Exhibitions Chairman of the Valley Artists’ Guild, two years as President of the San Fernando Valley Art Club, and was the first woman president of the California Art Club. established in 1909. Reinhardt created a California Art Club gallery in Westwood in 1971; because of high expenses, the gallery was closed in 1976.

Kaffy Reinhardt contracted a rare form of aggressive muscular cancer, ironically stemming from a severe bruise she suffered as she loaded her paintings into her car to take to a show. She eventually lost her right leg to this cancer, but continued to teach her classes from her wheelchair, and drive herself (loading her wheelchair into the car and having but one leg) to and from her students, until two weeks before she died. She showed an indomitable spirit and merry heart right up until she passed away on November 11, 1992.

[Sources: In Memory, CAC Bulletin, February 1993; Sara Elizabeth and Dixie Reinhardt, daughters of the artist (via; photo is from Who's Who in the California Art Club, Inc.-Roster and By-Laws, 1984, 75th Anniversary Edition.]

American Artists Professional League (NY; Hors de Concourse and Fellow)
American Institute of Fine Arts (Fellow)
California Art Club (President, 1970 – 1974, Honorary Life Member)
San Gabriel Fine Arts Association
San Fernando Valley Art Club (Honorary Life Member)
Valley Artists Guild (First Vice President, Exhibitions Chairman)

Kaffy had four sisters Elizabeth, Sara and Ella (who may both have died in youth) and Frances, and a brother William. The 1930 census states that her father William Bradford Roulstone was born in Kentucky, and her mother was born in Missouri.  Once they were married, they had Elizabeth, born in Georgia, but the rest, including her brother William Bradford Roulstone, were born in Islip, New York, where they all grew up during the roaring twenties.
Kaffy taught ballroom dancing at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in New York City where she met Benjamin Reinhardt, also a dance instructor. They married in June 1942 just as Benjamin had joined the Army for World War II. They moved to Springfield Missouri, where he was stationed throughout the war as a Sargent.
Kaffy's mother's sister was named "Gimmee" Hardee.  Mary Pinkham Hardee married General MacArthur's father, so Kaffy's mother and General Mac Arthur were first cousins.  Kaffy was therefore a second cousin to General William MacArthur.

Online Source for California Art Club:

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information is from Sarah Elizabeth and Dixie Reinhardt, daughters of the artist who report that their mother, Kaffy Reinhardt, was born January 7, 1918.  Her date of death was November 11, 1992.

She was born in New York City.  Her family had moved to the South not long after their original direct descendant, Governor William Bradford was the first colonial governor of Pennsylvania.  The Bradfords  were one of the original families who came to America on the Mayflower.  Another relative was General Douglas MacArthur.  MacArthur was Kaffy's mother's first cousin and the family resemblance is quite strong.

She owned Reinhardt Art Academy in Toluca Lake, California, and offered classes through the school years.  Also teaching at her school were Rollin "Mike" Moulton, Jean Blanchard and Paul Vent, and the successful school ooperated for more than 25 years.  For more than 30 years, she taught small group classes all over Southern California.  

The following quoted information is from the back of a flyer the artist used for her studio and school in Toluca Lake, California:

"There is an old saying: 'Those who can, paint; those who cannot, teach.'  Fortunately, this does not apply to Kaffy Reinhardt, who is not only one of this country's finest artists, she has also earned the reputation of being one of the ablest teachers in the West."

"This busy artist has crowded into her career commissions and portraits of celebrities such as Mr. Blackwell, on live camera.  She gives lecture demonstrations for Art Associations all over Southern California.  She is a popular jurist for art shows all over the west."

"She served a year as First Vice President and Exhibitions Chairman of the Valley Artists' Guild, two years as President of the San Fernando Valley Art Club, and is presently in her fourth term as the first woman president of the California Art Club, the oldest of art clubs in the State of California."

"This dynamic lady gives unstintingly of her knowledge, time and talent.  Some examples of her work have been seen in the Huntington-Sheraton Hotel in Pasadena, where she also conducts classes.  She is the official artist for the Bi-Centennial project, the reconstruction of the sailing frigate President, being commissioned to paint portraits of all of the US Presidents, which will be hung on board the Presidential gallery when the ship is completed in 1976.  Kaffy's paintings are in private collections all over the USA and abroad."

"Her most famous work was the portrait of Robert F. Kennedy. Jr. presented to Ms. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in 1970."

Kaffy Reinhardt was so well known that it is not necessary to enumerate the awards she won: well over three hundred ribbons, trophies, Gold Medals and Citations for Service.  She was said to be one of those rare breeds that could "paint anything."  She also earned the reputation of being one of the more able teachers in the West.

She held lifetime credentials with the Ventura and Los Angeles County Boards of education, and taught seminars in Oxnard, Simi Valley, Las Vegas, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel and Riverside, as well as San Diego, Laguna, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. 

Kaffy attended the National Academy of Design in New York, the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, and private classes with Sergei Bongart and Ted Lukits, who have both stated she was one of the finest women artists of the Twentieth Century.

She devoted much time and hard work to the promotion of fine art through the traditional art clubs.  She served four years as the President of the California Art Club, and established a gallery for them in Westwood, California.  She was an honorary member of the California and San Fernando Valley Art Clubs, Hors de Concours and a Fellow of the American Artists Professional League in New York.

Her career spanned a lifetime, and she is remembered fondly by hundreds of students and her family.  Her career closed with her passing in 1992, in Tustin, California.  An unfortunate accident occurred one day while she was loading her paintings into the trunk of her car: a bungee cord holding her paintings to the dolly whipped around and hit her in the back of the knee, on very soft tissue.  Within weeks this injury caused a lump that became a rare type of rapidly spreading cancer that ultimately took her life in November of 1992, at only the age of 72.

She was forced to have her right leg removed in 1990 the day the doctor discovered it was cancer, and had spread.  As an amputee, she taught from a wheelchair for the last year and a half of her life, continuing to drive herself to students as far as San Diego every week.

Few people outside her family knew that she was in continual pain, and she heroically drove herself everywhere, including to the doctors' offices.  She taught four-hour classes right up until two weeks before she passed away, during which time she lay in the hospital in Santa Ana.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Kaffy Reinhardt was the first woman to be president of the California Art Club.  She served from 1970-1974.  She studied at the College of William and Mary in Virginia for two years, the National Academy of Design for four years, for three years with Sergei Bongart in Los Angeles, one year with Theodore N. Lukits in Los Angeles and one year with Joe Mugnaini at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.

Reinhardt ran a traditional painting school in the San Fernando Valley and Pasadena for eighteen years, and artists Connie Marlow, Rollin Moulton, Jean Blanchard, Jake Lee, and Bernie Atkins taught at Kaffy's school.  She also taught adult education classes in Simi Valley and Van Nuys after moving to Tustin and taught classes and workshops in many other locations and appeared on TV.

She painted over 100 portrait commissions including for celebrities Danny Thomas, Mrs. Ethel Kennedy, Mrs. Darrel Anderson, Barbara Eden, and she worked on "painted mat shots," TV art, for the "Little House on the Prairie" and "Happy Days."  A portrait Kaffy painted of John F. Kennedy appeared in the 1964 film, John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightening, Days of Drums.  The location of this portrait is not known.  In 1976, she was commissioned to paint portraits of the American presidents to celebrate the Bicentennial.

Reinhardt won over 180 awards.  Her painting of the frigate "President" appears on the cover of "Military Affairs" Volume 38 1974.  Owner of the painting was Charles Keller, president of the society formed to reconstruct a full-fledged sailing replica of the President for the 1976 bicentennial.

Memberships included Life Member of the San Fernando Valley Art Club, California Art Club, Fellow of American Institute of Fine Arts, American Artists Professional League

Her name appeared frequently on the pages of the Valley News in Van Nuys California.

Marissa Bentley, American Art Research
In Memorium, CAC Bulletin, February 1993 (information courtesy of Eric Merrell, CAC Archivist )

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