Adolph Robert Shulz was born in Delavan, Wisconsin on June 12, 1869. He grew up hiking in the woods of Wisconsin with his father and making sketches of what he saw. He later went to study art in Chicago, New York, Paris and Munich. He studied portrait art but loved nature so much he painted landscapes. He met Ada Walter, also an artist, in a class she was taking. The two became friends and were married in the summer of 1894. Together they had a son, named Walter.
Adolph read about Brown County in the early 1900s and began visiting frequently. Finally in 1917, the family moved permanently. He and Ada became charter members of the Brown County Art Association. Adolph’s work was exhibited in many places including Nashville, Chicago and Indianapolis. He also won many awards and prizes for his paintings. As a result, of both their incomes, Ada and Adolph were able to lead a very comfortable life when compared to the other residents of the county.
Adolph began teaching students to paint. One such student was Alberta Rehm. She was more than twenty years younger than Adolph. Alberta was raising a baby alone and so the Shulz’s both assisted her. After awhile, her motives turned to more than just learning how to paint. She was attracted to Adolph and he was also attracted to her. Adolph divorced Ada and married Alberta. Many people frowned on his actions, but never lost respect for him as an artist.
The Shulz’s moved to Sarasota, Florida after Adolph took a teaching position at the Ringling School of Art. After a few years, they returned to Brown County. Adolph spent nearly thirty years working on the painting “The Master Presence”. It is a portrait of Christ. He was never satisfied with the painting. Adolph was concerned about what would happen to the paintings he had not sold once he passed away, including “The Master Presence”. His fears became reality. His paintings were not well kept after his death and were deemed lost. They were, however, restored in the early 1990s and put on display. Adolph R. Shulz died on January 24, 1963 at the age of 93.
Letsinger-Miller, Lyn. The Artists of Brown County. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994. 77-89.
Nesbit, M. Joanne, ed., Barbara Judd, comp. Those Brown County Artists: The Ones Who Came the Ones Who Stayed the Ones Who Moved On. Nashville: Nana’s Book, 1993. 183-184.
Brown County Art Colony
The Brown County Art Colony was formed in the early 1900s by artists who were attracted by the undisturbed picturesque landscape known as Peaceful Valley. T.C. Steele was the first to become a resident of the county when he purchased 200 acres near Belmont. Adolph Shulz is considered to be the founder of the Brown County Art Colony. He began visiting Brown County in 1908 and in 1917 became a permanent resident. Both Adolph Shulz and T.C. Steele influenced other artists and many began building cabins and moving to the area. Will Vawter and Gustave Baumann were among the first to make Brown County their home. Other artists such as Charles Dahlgreen, Lucie Hartrath, and L.O. Griffith came from Chicago and by the early 1930s there were at least eighteen artists with permanent homes in Brown County. Artists such as C. Curry Bohm, Edward K. Williams, Ada Walter Shulz, Carl Graf, V.J. Cariani, Gustav Baumann, Will Vawter, Dale Bessire, Georges LaChance, Marie Goth, Leota Loop, Adam Emory Albright, Olive Rush, and Alexis Fournier flourished and created the Brown County Art Colony nearly 100 years ago.
Letsinger-Miller, Lyn. The Artists of Brown County. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.
Nesbit, M. Joanne, ed., Barbara Judd, comp. Those Brown County Artists: The Ones Who Came the Ones Who Stayed the Ones Who Moved On. Nashville: Nana’s Book, 1993.