|Adrian Dornbush |
Born in Holland, Adrian Dornbush studied at the University of Wisconsin earning a BA in 1918, at the University College of Liberal Arts, Wisconsin from 1922-24, at the University of Kansas, Lawrence from 1928-29, and for two years overseas. He taught art in the Dubuque, Iowa public school district from 1926-28. He organized the Flint (MI) Institute of Art then was named director and a charter faculty member of the Anamosa art colony in 1932-33. Following the colony’s closing, he relocated to Des Moines and taught at the Art Students Workshop while handling numerous portrait commissions, mostly in watercolor. In 1934, Dornbush became involved in the new Key West, Florida Federal Emergency Relief Administration art experiment where he became the director/coordinator of the project and focused his efforts on developing regional tourism and national recognition of local artists. The Key West program was deemed a tremendous success and is seen as the precursor to the national WPA art program that began in 1935. Dornbush was then appointed to run the Special Skills branch of the WPA's Resettlement Division that same year, a program designed to employ artists in folk crafts, furniture design, and other native arts. As a Washington-based coordinator, Dornbush supervised all federal artwork programs in the
Tennessee Valley area. He stayed with the division from 1939-1942 until World War II caused the federal government to abandon arts funding to focus on the war effort. Dornbush instituted National Art Week in 1940-42, and left Washington to become assistant director of the Resettlement Division, USDA Special Service Section, composed of artists and designers. He eventually moved to Puerto Rico, where he died in 1970.
Member: Dubuque Art Association; Chicago Society of Artists.
Exhibitions: Des Moines Public Library, 1925; Chicago World’s Fair, the Iowa Art Salon.
Pamphlet file at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery Library in Washington, DC.
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"