18 March 1925 to 29 January 2014
Joann Kindt was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin to an artistic family. Her grandfather, Louis Kindt, was a scenery painter for the German Municipal Theater in Milwaukee and a partner in the Northwestern Panorama Company, which created Civil War battle panoramas. While other young women of her generation might have been discouraged from pursuing a career in art, her family supported this early ambition.
Kindt painted still-lives, portraits, and landscapes from the late 1940s until about 1989. She found pleasure in representing common objects: a tennis shoe, a Windex bottle, a tin can full of paint brushes, empty wine bottles after a party, cabbages in her garden. Kindt’s bold, painterly landscapes were inspired by visits to California, Arizona, and New Mexico. At work in Wisconsin, she found the vibrant colors and contrasts in sunsets, stormy skies, and light reflected on water.
Kindt attended the Chicago Art Institute where she met and worked with Robert Von Neumann, whom she remembers fondly. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1947 and master’s degree in 1950. She taught studio art courses at St. Francis College in Indiana, the Kenosha Vocational College, Kenosha Public Museum, and Eastern Illinois University in Charleston between 1947 and 1961 when she enrolled at Ohio State University to earn a PhD with Hoyt Sherman. She credits Sherman with “opening her eyes” as a painter.
Hoyt L. Sherman, whose most celebrated student may be Roy Lichtenstein, was known for his “flash laboratory.” Students standing at easels in the dark received an audio signal just before an image was flashed for a 10th of a second on a big screen. They drew what they had seen in the dark with chalk. Sherman’s method was tested scientifically: it improved students’ ability to see and to draw. Particularly, it increased students’ abilities to perceive what they saw as a whole, rather than a series of parts.
Kindt graduated from Ohio State in 1966 and that year was hired at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she remained until she retired in 1990. She taught various studio art courses, including painting and drawing, as well as art history. She rented studio space in the Algoma Building in downtown Oshkosh where she continued to paint actively, entering her work in competitions and taking part in shows.
Between 1950 and 2011 Kindt participated in more than 30 juried national, state, and local exhibitions earning 13 awards. She also showed her work in 19 one- and two-person shows. In 1971, she won a Helene A. Wurlitzer Foundation grant to stay for three months in Taos, New Mexico. In 1986, Kindt designed and executed the front scenic drop curtain for the Grand Theatre restoration in Oshkosh. She worked from sketches made by her grandfather, Louis Kindt, who painted the theater’s original fire curtain in about 1883.
Joann Kindt lived simply. She tended an organic vegetable garden in the small backyard and enjoyed cooking her fresh produce. Kindt was an accomplished violinist, retiring from the Oshkosh Symphony in the 1980s. She often used musical allusions to help her students work through problems in the painting studio. She loved her cats, Kittob and Tigger. She was also an ardent conservationist who travelled widely in the U.S. and overseas.