July 17, 2007
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WEST BEND, WI, July 17, 2007 --- Artist Frederic C. Koester of Milwaukee and West Bend will be honored posthumously on Wednesday, July 18th by the Museum of Wisconsin Art at a luncheon at the West Bend Country Club. The ceremony is part of “An Art-Filled Day in the Country” that includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the art museum and a look through the Koester family home on Big Cedar Lake. Milwaukee Author/Historian John Gurda will serve as the luncheon speaker.
A native of the Milwaukee suburb Fox Point, Koester spent childhood summers at the family’s cottage that was eventually replaced by the current 1,800 square foot home designed by his aunt and uncle, Willis and Lillian Leenhouts who had a very respected and successful architectural firm. A lake family since 1906, the home is filled with Fred’s art and prints will be available for sale with all proceeds to benefit the art museum.
Author of 14 books on the history of Milwaukee, John Gurda will speak on the history of his hometown, its leaders and how several of them including Byron Kilbourn and General Erastus B. Wolcott were also the founders of West Bend. A book signing of The Making of Milwaukee will follow the luncheon.
“We are delighted to honor Fred Koester posthumously,” said MWA Director of Development Elly M. Pick, “as he is only the second person to make a bequest to the art museum has received in our 46-year history. Founded by Melitta S. Pick and her husband, Andrew, the museum was primarily funded by their charitable trust, and major gifts were not actively pursued. However, as we are now a regional art museum which is as statewide treasure, we hope to attract future bequests and have established a Chroma Society to recognize those donors. It is our intention to annually honor those who have chosen to leave a legacy in this community by including the museum in their estate plans. The word chroma is an art term that describes intensity and saturation of color. The members of the Chroma Society will make a gift investment that strengthens the financial base of the museum for generations to come.”
Chairs of the event include John and Julie Dedrick of West Bend, John and Mary Emory of West Bend and Milwaukee, Sheldon and Marianne Lubar of Milwaukee and David and Genie Meissner of Grafton and Hawaii.
Sponsors of the event include Cedarwinds Investment Management LLC, Jim and Pati Ericson, David Frank Contract Landscaping, Inc., Moore Design, Inc., Oarsman Capital, Inc., Schloemer Spella Muehlbauer & Enea, SC.
Event committee members include Kevin and Linda Cowan, Richard M. and Victoria Cudahy III, Russ and Sue Darrow, Marlene Haen Doerr, John and Phyllis Eichenseer, Jim and Pati Ericson, Mary E. Henke, Joel and Laurie Kirsch, Rip and Karen Maclay, David and Jane Frank, Tod and Patty Maclay, David and Lisa Moore, Kevin and Katie O’Meara, Chet and Maribeth Nielsen, Robert W. Phelps, John and Lynn Punzenberger, Jim and Andrea Schloemer, Johan and Jane Segerdahl, Jim and Karen Spella, Bill and Sue Sprinkmann, Roger and Joan Stephenson, Tony and Linda Warren, Tony Weasler and Mary Ellen DeHaven.
Born in 1923, Fred Koester showed an artistic ability at a very early age and went on to a highly successful career in New York and Paris. He studied at the Layton School of Art, then the Milwaukee Teachers College where he was mentored by Robert von Neumann. He was a leader in a movement called “Young Artists Going Places.”
In 1945, Fred attended Columbia University in New York City and in 1948, he moved to the Left Bank in Paris where he studied at Academie Julian. Using the French capital as a base, he painted and traveled throughout Europe including over a year in the North African country of Morocco. Fred’s paintings hung in many European galleries including La Galeria Saint-Placide and the famous Salon des Independents at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. Even so, his crowning tribute in the French capital was a one-man show, “Works of the American, Koester,” at the prestigious Lucienne-Leonce Rosenburg Gallery.
Fred worked extensively in graphic arts and illustration for Franklin Simon, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord and Taylor, Bambergers, IBM, Raymond Loewy Associates, Air France, Countess Mara as well as hotels in the U.S. and Virgin Islands. He also designed the 100th anniversary windows and store interiors for Macy’s Department Store, the largest display of its kind to date. Additionally, he designed for the stage, advertising posters and record album covers. Fred passed away on October 7th of 2004 at his home in Pasadena, Florida. He is survived by his brother, Tom, of Milwaukee and West Bend, as well as two nephews and a niece of Milwaukee.