Joann Kindt was born in Kenosha, WI to Nettie Titania Hill Kindt and George Marcus Kindt. From an early age she knew she would be an artist. Her grandfather, Louis Kindt, was a stage scenery, fresco, and panorama painter in Wisconsin and Illinois.
Kindt attended the Chicago Art Institute and earned a bachelor's degree in 1947 and master's degree in 1950 where she met and worked with Robert Von Neumann, whom she remembers fondly. However, she commented, "I was scrambling around artistically, not really knowing what I was doing." 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. It was there that she began to work with Hoyt Sherman.
Sherman encouraged Kindt to stop trying to represent what she saw before her, and to discover, instead, a painting's underlying structure. "Because," she often said, "we respond intuitively to the abstract composition of a painting, not its subject matter or style." Kindt credited Sherman with opening her eyes as a painter.
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.
In 1971, Kindt won a Helene A. Wurlitzer Foundation grant to stay for three months in Taos, New Mexico. Inspired by the harsh topography, extreme contrast of sunlight and shadow, and vivid colors of the near-desert, Kindt began to realize her mature landscape style. When she returned to Wisconsin, she found the vibrant colors and contrasts in sunsets, stormy skies, and light reflected on water.
In the mid 1970s, Kindt traveled with UW-O Art and French students to Paris and Reims, France for several spring semesters abroad. She taught art history on the hoof in the monuments and museums and oversaw her students' progress in painting and printmaking at the Ecole de beaux Arts in Reims.
In 1986, Joann 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.
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, most recently at Evergreen Retirement Community in Oshkosh where she lived since about 2000.
Joann Kindt produced still-lives, portraits, and landscapes of superb quality until about 1989. She found particular 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. She continued to create landscapes of dramatic color and contrast, working in and around Oshkosh and Eagle River, WI.
Kindt's mother, her brother, Orin, and sister, Mary Ellen, were accomplished pianists. Joann Kindt followed after her great-grandfather, Ludlow P. Hill and great uncle, Orin Hill, when she took up the violin as a girl. She played throughout her life, retiring from the Oshkosh Symphony in the 1980s
Joann Kindt lived a simple lifestyle. She tended an organic vegetable garden in the small backyard of her house on Wisconsin Street and enjoyed cooking her fresh produce. She loved her cats, Kittob and Tigger. She was also an ardent conservationist who travelled widely in the U.S. and overseas. Her work may be viewed in Oshkosh at Affinity-Mercy Medical Center, the Oshkosh Public Museum, Oshkosh North High School, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and Evergreen Retirement Community.
Former student, long-time friend and advocate Dawn Bernier said, "Joann is a master of her medium, she is a brilliant woman who has inspired so many, and so many she considered her 'kids.'" Former student and long-time friend Jill Thurk said, "Joann inspired me as an artist and as a person because of the depth of her knowledge, her kindness, and her commitment to helping others and our planet."
Kindt is survived by her sister, Mary Ellen Kindt McKenzie of Chico, CA, niece, Alison McKenzie Mahoney, nephews, Robert and James McKenzie, and grand nieces and nephew.
A memorial gathering will take place in early summer.
Published in Oshkosh Northwestern on Feb. 2, 2014
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