The Stone City Art Colony and School 1932-1933
Katharine K. Pearman

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Katharine K. [Keeler] Pearman (1888-1961)

Born in Beloit, Wisconsin, Katharine Keeler and her family settled in Rockford, Illinois while she was a child.  Her father, Edwin H. Keeler, was president of the Rockford Lumber and Fuel Company, as well as the city’s first president and organizer of its chamber of commerce.  As her interest in painting developed, Katharine completed all art courses offered by the local, public schools.  Her recognized talents led to an acceptance for art studies at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, an Ivy-League campus for women.  While there, Keeler completed her freshmen and sophomore years (1907-1909) and left campus, never declaring a major.

Upon returning to Rockford, Keeler began her professional life as an art educator and painter.  During the 1920s, she studied with Hugh Breckenridge, an American impressionist painter, and began to exhibit in area venues.  Keeler married Arthur Pearman, a family practitioner; the couple made their home in Rockford, where he worked as the campus physician for Rockford College.  Katharine later attended both sessions of the Stone City colony, arriving with some Chicago-area name recognition due to prizes and showings from the Rockford Art Association (1927-1946) and at the Art Institute of Chicago (1929,1932).  In the late 1930s, she received further training with Francis Chapin, an Art Institute of Chicago and Stone City art colony faculty member, at the Ox-Bow school of art in Saugatuck, Michigan. 

Pearman remained active in Rockford-area art endeavors for the remainder of her life.  A fixture of the local art association, she served as its gallery secretary and for two terms as president; the group is now affiliated with the Rockford Art Museum.  Elected to the Chicago Society of Artists in 1944, Pearman continued to exhibit with regional, notable showings at the Wisconsin Salon of Art (1939-1945), where she won first prize [The Wisconsin Union Purchase Prize] in watercolors for her work “Station at Beloit” (1942) and a second grand purchase prize in watercolors for “Haunted House” (1943).  Other important exhibitions included the Corcoran Gallery of Art [Washington, D.C.] (1941), The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1941), and the Carnegie Institute (1941), now known as the Carnegie Museum of Art.  Among her recognitions, Pearman’s oil painting “Watertown” was featured in the 118th annual exhibition (1944) of the National Academy of Design.  Local patrons found her work shown regularly at the Burpee Art Gallery in Rockford (1949-1951; various future years).  The early 1940s also garnered generous praise from the Art Institute of Chicago, where two of her watercolors were included among pieces for the International Water Color Show. 

In 1942, Pearman began her teaching career at Rockford College, where she worked as an art instructor, mentoring young students.  At Camp Grant, Illinois, a regional training installation for World War II Army cavalry recruits, she was hired to create murals for the facility’s church in St. Paul’s Chapel.  Pearman returned to full-time painting after leaving Rockford College in 1945.  She remained active in the area’s art association as both a teacher and exhibitor and died in Rockford in February 1961.


Katharine K. Pearman. Photo from her obituary. Copyright Rockford Register Star 2005. Used with permission.

Katherine K. Pearman. Copyright Rockford Register Star 2005. Used with permission.

Katherine K. Pearman. Copyright Rockford Register Star 2005. Used with permission.


When Tillage Begins: The Stone City Art Colony and School
Published online October 2003 by the
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