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Photo of Adelaide
taken in 1946 by her
16 year old nephew
Ben Hiebel. Ben would
go on to build a successful
photography studio
in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
 
Adelaide Hiebel
Adelaide completed more than 400 known signed or documented works for Gerlach-Barklow including portraits of the CEO's, and the famous pastel of Joliet's own Lois Delander, Miss America, in her bathing suit (shown below).

Gerlach-Barklow artists all worked in the medium of pastels, not oil paints, as many assume.

Of all the work Adelaide produced, only 50 originals are documented today. Adelaide purchased many of her favorite originals from the company and took them with her when she moved to California in 1955 to retire.

Adelaide had a brother Ben who also worked for Gerlach-Barklow as an artist. His style was similar to that of Adelaide and Kenyon. Adelaide was cautious to make sure he never became more famous than she was. While working, both Adelaide and Ben would not let anyone into their studios.

Adelaide was also into the spiritual movement. She had a sister who died young, and Adelaide always said her sister was an angel who sat on her shoulder and guided her work.

Every Sunday, Adelaide's brother Ben and his wife, along with their son Ben Jr., would take Adelaide on a family drive to her favorite German restaurant, Ratzkellers, in Aurora, IL.

Adelaide passed away in 1965 at her home in Santa Ana, California. Of all the works from Gerlach-Barklow she is believed to have owned, the family has not been able to locate them. But collectors are finding some and paying huge prices for originals. Just the prints are being sold on E-Bay for a collector's price. It looks like Adelaide's works are being reborn for the newer generations to enjoy.

Adelaide Hiebel established herself as one of the finest female artists of her time while working for Joliet's famous calendar company, Gerlach-Barklow.

Adelaide was born in 1885 in New Hope, Wisconsin. She came to Illinois to study art at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was there that she met a special teacher, Zula Kenyon, who would become her mentor. Adelaide Hiebel also taught at Oshkosh College (now UWO) in the art department, around 1916.

It was Kenyon who recommended Adelaide to the Gerlach-Barklow Calendar Company, and around 1918, Adelaide came to Joliet to work in the Gerlach-Barklow factory.

Adelaide's studio was originally at the top of the Gerlach building on Washington Street. Soon she convinced the owners to let her set up her own studio at home.

Her first home in Joliet was on John Street, where she lived with her husband Carl St. Clair (not his real name). Carl was in the liquor business...and his employer was the mob. She was not married to Carl for long. He got whacked so soon after their marriage that her family never learned his real last name. She never remarried.

Adelaide was an eccentric who loved to throw lavish parties and flaunt the money she made. She was paid as much as $10,000 per painting -- in the 1940s! Adelaide was so well respected in the art world that she could attract top artists from across the nation to come to Joliet for her annual artist's Open House and Social Gathering. These affairs were kept quiet in the press. Chauffeured limos were lined up and down John Street so it looked like a Hollywood Premier. Guests would stay at the Louis Joliet Hotel or the Woodruff Inn.

Adelaide lived in the house on John Street until 1930 when she moved to 700 Raynor Avenue. This building is now listed in the Historic homes of Joliet.

 

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