(1918 – 1992)
Kaffy Reinhardt was born January 7, 1918. She had three siblings: two sisters, Elizabeth and Frances, and a brother William. The 1930 census states that her father, William Bradford Roulstone, was born in Kentucky, and her mother, Katherine Roulstone, was born in Missouri. Once they were married, they had Elizabeth, born in Georgia, but the rest, including her brother William Bradford Roulstone, were born in Islip, New York, where they all grew up during the Roaring Twenties. Kaffy taught ballroom dancing at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in New York City where she met her future husband, Benjamin M. Reinhardt, who was also a dance instructor. She studied art and graduated from the College of William and Mary in Virginia before marrying Benjamin Reinhardt in June 1942. About the time they married, Benjamin joined the Army and the young couple relocated to Springfield, Missouri, where he was stationed throughout the war as a Sargent. Together, they had three children, Dennis, Sara and Dixie.
Later in life, she studied at the National Academy of Design (N.Y.C.), privately with Sergei Bongart and Theodore Lukits (L.A.), and Joe Mugnaini at Otis Art Institute (L.A.). For 25 years, she maintained the Reinhardt Art Academy, a studio and traditional painting school for adults in Toluca Lake, CA. Other artists also taught classes within her school: Connie Marlow (portrait and still life), Rollin “Mike” Moulton (seascape), Jean Blanchard and Jake Lee (watercolor), and Bernie Atkins (architectural renderings). When she moved to Tustin she continued to teach art throughout much of Southern California, ranging from the valleys north of Los Angeles to weekly classes in San Diego. She entered numerous exhibits and won first prize at many of the shows she entered. Most of her early work in college included sculpture, oils, and watercolors, though few of these items remain today. She also took up china painting and found that most of her painting students wanted to learn this. She fired most of her own work in kilns, painting exclusively on Lenox.
Reinhardt often worked on portrait commissions (including one of a Mr. Blackwell) as well as mural commissions (Queen’s Arms Restaurant, Encino), works for television (“Little House on the Prairie” and “Happy Days”), and movies. She exhibited her work at the Huntington-Sheraton Hotel in Pasadena, where she also conducted classes. She was the official artist for the Bi-Centennial project, the reconstruction of the sailing frigate “President”, being commissioned to paint portraits of all of the US Presidents, which were hung on board in the Presidential gallery when the ship was completed in 1976. Her most well-known work was a portrait of Robert F. Kennedy. Jr., which was presented to Ms. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in 1970.
Reinhardt served a year as First Vice President and Exhibitions Chairman of the Valley Artists’ Guild, two years as President of the San Fernando Valley Art Club, and was the first female president of the California Art Club. In 1971 Reinhardt created a CAC Gallery located in Westwood (L.A.); because of high expenses and poor sales, the gallery was closed in 1976.
As she loaded paintings into her car to take to an exhibition sometime around mid-1989 Kaffy suffered a severe bruise on her knee, subsequently contracting a rare form of aggressive muscular cancer. Though she eventually lost her right leg to the disease, she continued to teach classes from her wheelchair. She remained independent and drove herself to and from her students up until two weeks before she died. She showed an indomitable spirit and merry heart right up until she passed away on November 11, 1992.
[Sources: In Memory, CAC Bulletin, February 1993; Sara Elizabeth Reinhardt Ali and Dixie Reinhardt, daughters of the artist (email and via AskART.com); Who’s Who in the California Art Club, Inc. Roster and By-Laws, 1984, 75th Anniversary Edition (photo).]
American Artists Professional League (NY; Hors de Concourse and Fellow)
American Institute of Fine Arts (Fellow)
California Art Club (President, 1970 – 1974, Honorary Life Member)
San Gabriel Fine Arts Association
San Fernando Valley Art Club (Honorary Life Member)
Valley Artists Guild (First Vice President, Exhibitions Chairman)