Don E. Kaiser, age 72, of Philadelphia, passed away July 25 after a short illness. He was a visual artist and an avid fly fisherman. Don worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for over 30 years. As a member of the Department of Community Programs in the 70’s and early 80’s, he and his co-worker Clarence Wood collaborated with artists James Rosenquist, Gene Davis, Sam Gilliam, and others, to bring their art projects to fruition. From the mid 80’s until his retirement in 2008 he worked in the PMA Installations Department, hanging exhibitions and installing art.
Don was the first Artist in Residence at the Fleisher Art Memorial, and continued his association there for many years, teaching courses in painting and basic drawing.
He exhibited his work in Philadelphia, New York City, Brooklyn, Washington D.C., Wilmington, DE, and other locations.
Don fished in many areas of the world. He was an active member of the Anglers Club of Philadelphia and served on its board.
He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Gina Kaiser.
Don Kaiser graduated from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, with a degree in painting and printmaking. In 1970 he was one of the first artists hired by the Philadelphia Print Club (now the Print Center) to create prints for their Prints in Progress program at the 1812 Green St. Workshop. From 1972 to 1983 he worked as a public artist in The Philadelphia Museum of Art's Department of Urban Outreach (later renamed the Department of Community Programs), where he produced numerous and varied works of art in collaboration with other artists and the public. In 1972, Kaiser became the first Artist-in-Residence at the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, where he still teaches painting. He has exhibited continuously since 1972, with his work appearing in many solo and group exhibitions. Kaiser has had one person shows at the Stephen Rosenberg Gallery in New York City; the Wolfe Street Gallery in Washington, DC; Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO; as well as locally at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (now Philadelphia University), and twice at the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial. In 1988 he was chosen by Alan Edmonds of the Brandywine Graphics Workshop for an Artist-in-Residency at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, in Swansea, Wales, UK, where he also lectured on public art in Philadelphia. In addition, Kaiser served on the Site Planning Advisory Committee for Broad and Columbia Sts. at Temple University, and the Creative Walls Committee of the University of Pennsylvania. Kaiser was the recipient in 1982 of the First Annual Corporate Culture Award, sponsored jointly by the African-American History & Culture Museum (now The African-American Museum in Philadelphia) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This award was for his work as coordinating artist on the exhibition Treasures of Ancient Nigeria, held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1982. He was honored in 1989 with the Philadelphia Artist Achievement Award, given by the Mayor of Philadelphia on behalf of the city, for his work as an artist both in Philadelphia and in Swansea. In 1997, while working on a one person show at Fleisher combining painting, drawing, and sculptural elements, Kaiser began to explore digital media as an additional form of expression. He has since created a sizable body of digital work that he refers to as electronic collage. Kaiser first exhibited this new work in the faculty exhibition at Fleisher in 2003, and in 2003-04 in group shows at the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Offices in the Bellevue, and at the Philadelphia Sketch Club. Kaiser has exhibited recently: February, 2005, in a one person installation in Window on Broad Street, at the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts; at the Cosmopolitan Club in December, 2005; and at the Suzanne Fleisher and Ralph Joel Roberts Gallery of the Fleisher Art Memorial, February 4th through April 22nd, 2006. Kaiser, who lives in Philadelphia, is represented by ArtWorks Gallery at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.