Hilda Kaster Biography

Hilda Kaster

American

1912-2008

Biography


Hilda Miriam Davidson Kaster (nee Hilda Davidson), painter, printmaker, graphic artist, and designer, was born in Oakland, California to Russian Jewish immigrant parents on March 27, 1912. She began exploring venues in art at twelve years of age and participated in theatre productions in Oakland as well as at the Mount Tamalpais Theatre in Marin County and was enrolled in art classes at the Jewish Community Center in Oakland. She was in her early twenties when she moved to New York to pursue an art education.

Davidson studied at the Traphagen School of Design in New York City where she was a student of Moses Soyer and William Gropper, and at the progressive and independent American Artists School. While in New York, she was also a student of socialist leaning artists Harry Glassgold and Saul Baizerman.  

After her studies in New York, Davidson returned to Oakland to assist her mother. The family eventually moved to San Francisco where Davidson resumed her art studies with Chinese American artist Dong Kingman. She also became more politically active in union organizing and in the labor movement and with friends and family formed a group called the Walrus Club, which focused on art and politics. During this time Davidson and her mother joined the Communist party.

Davidson married Charles E. Kaster in 1940 and relocated to Pensacola, Florida while he completed his military service. After his discharged, they returned to San Francisco about 1944 and found work in the Marin shipyards. The Kasters resumed their political activity and support of labor unions and Charles eventually joined the Community Party, and, as a result he was "black listed" in 1947 and lost his position in a San Francisco firm.

In 1949, the Kasters moved north to Sebastopol, California where Charles began his career as a chicken rancher. Hilda set up her studio on the ranch and they joined the community of artists and like-minded thinkers. Hilda continued to create her art and she organized a group of artists that met on a weekly basis. She was a member of the Santa Rosa Art Guild and the Artists Workshop and exhibited her work at the annual Artrium exhibitions.

Hilda Kaster's work was included in the 2012 exhibition California's Designing Women: 1896-1986 mounted at The Autry in Los Angeles. She was also given a six-page spread in the recently published four-volume set, Emerging From the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960.

Hilda Miriam Davidson Kaster died in Sebastopol, California on January 22, 2008.