Women in Art

Dulah Marie Evans (Krehbiel)

All Images and Information provided by
Donald T. Ryan, Jr. of the The Krehbiel Corporation
and Jane Meyer of Jane Meyer Fine Art, Elburn, Illinois.

Dulah Marie Llan Evans was born on February 17th, 1875, to pioneer residents of Oskaloosa, Iowa, David and Marie Ogg Evans. She was brought up (along with her sister, Mayetta, and two brothers, Walter and Carl) in a low rambling house of many rooms that was reminiscent of the homes of Llanidloes, Wales, the birth place of her father. David Evans, a well-educated man, was the architect and builder of the Evans Building, which stands to this day on the main street in Oskaloosa. Dulah's mother, Marie, came from an upper class family in Switzerland and was the driving force behind the education of her children. She was very gifted in the arts and encouraged her daughters, particularly, to pursue careers in creative fields

Dulah attended Penn College, graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago, and did postgraduate work at the Art Students League in New York, where she won many first place awards in illustration classes under the instruction of Walter Appleton Clark. She also studied at the Charles Hawthorne School in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and at the New York School of Art under William Merritt Chase.

This was the "Golden Age of Illustration" (1865-1917) and Dulah was part of it. She held a place in the prestigious Tree Studio building in Chicago from 1903 through 1905 along with other well-known artists such as Pauline Palmer, Walter Marshall Clute, and Louis Betts. Becoming a successful commercial artist, Dulah illustrated covers for several publications, including Ladies Home Journal, Harper's Bazaar, and Leslie's Illustrated Weekly.

Photography was an important tool in Dulah's works. She made many trips southwest to New Mexico from the years 1900 to 1905, photographing Native American subjects that would later be used as the basis for her paintings and prints. An example of this is her woodcut, Mission at Laguna, which was featured in the Chicago Evening Post in 1927.

Dulah left the Tree Studio in 1906 to marry Albert Henry Krehbiel, a fellow classmate from the Art Institute of Chicago. Albert was awarded an American Traveling Scholarship from the Art Institute in 1903 and, having spent three years studying at Academie Julian in Paris and traveling and painting throughout Europe, had accepted a teaching position at the Institute in early 1906 while still overseas. In 1907, Albert reduced his schedule to teaching summer sessions only and undertook the awarded commission to design and paint the eleven wall and two ceiling murals for the Illinois Supreme Court Building in the state capitol of Springfield (the murals were completed in 1911).

Dulah was Albert's only assistant, performing the duties of designing costumes, modeling, and conducting research on material pertinent to the theme of the murals. As with many husband and wife artists of the time, Dulah and Albert frequently painted together and often painted the same subject. They each had a high regard for the others work and Albert, unlike many men of his day, was proud of his wife's artistic career and success.

From 1910 through 1915, Dulah worked out of her new "Ridge Crafts Studio" in Park Ridge, Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago were she and Albert had purchased a lovely large home. Here, she created a line of exclusively designed cards and folders for all occasions. Her assistants, appropriately called the "Ridge Craft Girls", often pulled double duty as models for both Dulah's and Albert's paintings. However, nobody was asked to pose more than their beautiful baby boy, Evans Llan Krehbiel (their only child), born in 1914. A painting of Evans, appropriately titled Baby Krehbiel, was featured in the Chacago Daily Herald on March 14th, 1915.

Evans' "career" as a model had just begun as he accompanied his mother, father, and dear aunt Mayetta on trips to California and New Mexico from 1918 through 1923. While his father painted wondrous landscapes, his mother painted scenes of him and his aunt in various settings. Dulah's Southwest works would later be exhibited back in Chicago at The Arts Club, where she was a founding member.

It was in California that Dulah began painting in the modernistic style. She created works that were more introspective in nature and which had spiritual overtones. She became interested in the organization of multiple figures, often using groupings of three (perhaps to reveal a spiritual synthesis) in surrealistic mountain landscapes. Dulah created different tensions with each canvas by the placement of subject figures in positions juxtaposed to their rocky surroundings. Regarding her work, Polama Valley, Hi Simons, critic for The Arts section of The Touchstone Magazine (Brooklyn, New York; 1922), wrote: ". . . (The painting is) spontaneously accomplished. Its' color-tone is of unbroken refinement that contrasts agreeably with a certain rawness in some of her previous work. The correspondence between the lines of the mountains and those of the figures in the fore is subtle and sure; the trees unify the composition, the whole canvas is disposed with grace and convincing logic."

Dulah left Park Ridge for New York City in 1930, hoping to further her career as a modernistic painter. It appears that she was successful in establishing a market for her artwork there at the Salons of America and the Society of Independent Artists. Dulah's stay in New York was short, however, as she and her sister were called to Iowa to attend to the severe damage that a tornado had caused to the Evans Building. It took a full year for the sisters to complete the repairs.

Returning to her Park Ridge home and her studio (now called "Studio Place") in 1932, Dulah persevered in creating her ethereal landscapes throughout the decade and beyond. Prime examples of these are her Mountain of the Blue Moon done in 1934 and Waterfalls done in 1938. Representative of the time in which Dulah lived, her sketchbook from the 1940's includes two drawings that were most likely designed for posters relating to the theme of war.

Albert, Dulah's partner in art as well as in marriage, died on June 29th, 1945. As he had requested, Dulah and Evans scattered his ashes along the banks of the Des Plaines River in Park Ridge. It was here that Albert had found so many exquisite motifs to paint through the years. In his memory, they planted an evergreen pine to mark the place that they believed he would have chosen for his long rest.

Dulah's first grandchild arrived in 1950, bringing much joy in what was to be her last year. Dulah Llan Evans Krehbiel died on July 24th, 1951, at the age of 75. She had managed to keep her creative independent spirit alive throughout the years of the Great Depression and two World Wars. Her spirit lives on in the artwork she created, from her early charming illustrations to her self-revealing modernistic landscapes. In Dulah, we get the sense of a woman of humor, of spirit, and a woman ahead of her time, strong in her own convictions and remaining true to herself and her art.

Image List
Mountain of the Blue Moon
Three Ladies at an Open Window
Golden Curls
Christmas Poinsettas

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