Elmore County Landscape I

DAC FOUNDATION  |  From the collection of Mark Andrew Harris

1942  |  JKF-2022.AW.0001  |  Watercolor on Board, 11 x 16.5 inches

This painting was acquired from a Birmingham family with a close relationship with DAC artist Arthur Stewart.

DAC Foundation, Wetumpka, Alabama

John Kelly Fitzpatrick | 1888-1953

Artist, Educator, Art Promoter, and Co-founder of the Dixie Art Colony

Dixie Art Colony Foundation

Although there have been questions surrounding the actual birth place of John Kelly Fitzpatrick, we have confirmed that he was indeed born on August 15, 1888, at the Cantelou home located at 207 West Tuskeena Street in Wetumpka, Alabama, to Jane Lovedy Kelly and Dr. Phillips Fitzpatrick. His grandfather Benjamin Fitzpatrick was governor of Alabama from 1841 to 1845. He grew up on Wetumpka’s west side in a comfortable home located on Autauga Street. By the age of four, he became interested in painting. He cultivated that interest as a young adult during a brief period of study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1912 and much later at the age of 37 at the Académie Julian in Paris.

Kelly served in World War I, during which he suffered severe shrapnel wounds. As a result, he was permanently scarred on his face, neck, and chest. This experience colored his outlook profoundly, and he later wrote that his physical suffering caused him to lose interest in the material world and focus instead on the beautiful and spiritual aspects of life.

Fitzpatrick is considered one of the South’s most prominent artists and art promoters of the 1930s and 40s. He is best known for paintings of rural central Alabama. His work can be found in the permanent collections of numerous art museums and selective private collections. During his travels in Europe, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters such as Cezanne, Matisse, and Van Gogh greatly influenced his style.

He was one of the founders of the Dixie Art Colony, the Alabama Art League, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art and was the first director and co-founder of the Montgomery Museum of Art School. During The Great Depression, a particularly tough time for artists, he participated in the US Treasury Department’s Public Works of Art Project, also known as the New Deal Art Project, which was a part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal economic recovery program.

While working on a series of murals for the Bank of Tallassee, Fitzpatrick suffered a massive heart attack and died on April 18, 1953. Based on the numerous newspaper articles that appeared after his death, it was very clear that he was one of the area’s most beloved and respected citizens.

Sources: DAC Foundation Archives, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery Advertiser, The Wetumpka Herald

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