Ada B. Caldwell
Ada Caldwell (1869-1938) is a seminal South Dakota teacher, artist and arts advocate. As South Dakota State University Professor of Art from 1899-1936, Caldwell built art appreciation on campus and in the community. Perhaps best known as the first art instructor of Harvey Dunn, Caldwell’s impact on the arts in South Dakota is far-reaching and under-examined. Throughout almost her entire tenure, Caldwell brought annual traveling exhibits of artwork for display in the SDSU Art Department. These exhibits were open to the public and offered the Brookings community an early opportunity for art appreciation.
An April 1940 retrospective exhibit of Caldwell’s artwork prompted the first formal record of a need for a state art museum.
Caldwell likely completed Estes Park during the summer she studied under Birger Sandzén at the Broadmoor Art Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It displays the broad, loose, Post-Impressionist style Caldwell embraced as a result of those studies. Learn more about Ada Caldwell here: Ada Caldwell Collection and Biography.
Ada B. Caldwell
oil on canvas, c. 1923
1992.05.0. South Dakota Art Museum Collection.
Conservation treatment funded by Institute of Museum and Library Services, Museums for America Grant.
Ada B. Caldwell, circa 1910s
Credit: South Dakota Art Museum Archives
1916 Jackrabbit Art Club
Ada Caldwell (sitting, second from the right). "Harvest Orator" (right center) by Harvey Dunn hangs in Ada Caldwell’s Art Department, c. 1916. Dunn provided the painting as an illustration for the 1907 Jackrabbit Yearbook and then gifted it to the Art Department. This is likely the first Dunn painting to enter a public collection. Its donation underlines the depth of gratitude Dunn felt for his early instruction under Caldwell. Credit: SDSU Archives
Ada B. Caldwell plaque
Coolidge Sylvan Theatre, South Dakota State University
1963-0628-PA01, SDSU Archives.
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