Frederick B. Kress Biography

Frederick B. Kress




Frederick B. Kress was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on January 7, 1888, the son of artist Carl Victor Kress. Considered a quintessential California artist, Kress's life began in Pennsylvania and in Independence, Missouri. Toward the end of his high school years he relocated with his family to San Francisco, just a few months before the 1906 earthquake. He worked as a sign and scenery painter with his father in 1906, and in 1908 he went to work with Schroeder & Herzog Company. Between 1909 and 1920 he studied at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art (later known as the California School of Fine Arts) with artists Maynard Dixon, Alice B. Chittenden, C. Chapel Judson, E. Spencer and Constance Mackey and Emil Grebs. He married Marjorie Wale in 1919.

Between 1912 and 1917 Kress was part of a group of painters that took painting excursions to the Big Sur area. Others in the group included Judson, Martin Syvertson, Lyman Jennings, William McVey and Walter Sutter. Kress, Jennings, McVey and William Gaw also took regular Sunday painting excursions in San Francisco and Marin County. Kress continued to work in the sign painting trade, taking a position along with Emil Grebs at the Charles Green Company, which became Foster & Kleiser advertising in 1915. He was superintendent of the paint department of Foster & Kleiser between 1915 and 1957 and was instrumental in hiring his former teacher, painter Maynard Dixon, in 1917 where Dixon got a contract from the Great Northern Railroad for a group of paintings.

Fred Kress exhibited with the San Francisco Art Association until 1920, after which time he painted strictly for pleasure and was not known to have exhibited or marketed any of his paintings. Between 1920 and 1960 Kress made yearly painting trips to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, especially the Fallen Leaf area. A resident of San Francisco until 1962, his last years were spent in Santa Rosa, CA where he died on August 10, 1970.

The Annex Galleries in Santa Rosa exhibited 32 of his oil paintings in May of 1980.