Last month, Virginia lost one of its most intriguing self-taught artists. Frederick Kahler of Rappahannock County, born 1942, spent the last 45 years of his life creating meticulously detailed drawings, each the result of spiritual ritual and focused intention. A deep student of religion and numerology, he would channel his visions in a process that could take months or even years to complete. The piece featured on the cover, “Diana,” is unique for its circular canvas, a visual motif used extensively in much of his other work. One such piece, “Circles,” is on display along with “Untitled (Blue Waterfall)” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1st Floor, West Wing.
Kahler shared these sentiments during his final parting:
45 years ago I picked up a steel tip pen and dipped it in ink. I have embraced this ritual every day since. It begins as if someone is ringing the doorbell and I instinctively answer. When the visit is over, the door closes. Following an invisible force, I am transported to ancient places. I find myself in Israel with Abraham and Moses; In India with Buddha and Ganesh; In Greece with Zeus and Apollo. To create is to give life to something that will remain after you are gone. As visitors here, we all leave behind something memorable; this is the answer to the soul’s calling. It has been my privilege to share these creations with you in this lifetime.
Kahler’s work has been exhibited at the Metro Show and Outsider Art Fair, New York; The Intuit Show, Chicago; The Fine Print Fair, Cleveland; and the American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore. His drawings are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. Learn more about the artist at frederickkahler.com.