Friedolin Kessler | CCC Camp Artist

Friedolin Kessler (1913-1995) graduated from art school at Washington University in Missouri in 1935, during the depths of the Great Depression. While prospects for any type of employment were grim, they were especially challenging for an artist. Yet one exception was open to artists through one of the greatest public works programs in American history: the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC

The CCC established work camps to complete various civil engineering and infrastructure projects across the country. Friedolin became a camp artist for the Missouri CCC in 1935, only to find shortly thereafter that his entire camp was to be moved to the he San Jose, California area. He worked as as one of only 100 artists selected to document life in CCC camps across the United States. Friedolin was stationed at Camp 739 , New Almaden Quicksilver Camp in California, the site of an old quicksilver (mercury) mine. During his two years here, he captured the lives of the CCC workers, whose charge in this area was to build fire roads and lookout towers, fight fires, and remove abandoned mining buildings. In addition to the paintings and drawings he created, he developed his talent for what would become a lifelong favorite medium: linoleum cuts. These drawings show not only his talent, but also his dry humor and wry observations of daily life in the camps and in those times.

Friedolin was required to send all of the work he created to Washington D.C. at his own expense.

The New Almaden Quicksilver area remained special to Friedolin for the rest of his life. It became a public park in 1975 and he returned often to hike its trails. In the early 1990’s Friedolin paid a final tribute to his CCC days by designing and building a stone monument to the Civilian Conservation Corps that is located within the park.

image Self Portrait (CCC camp) 1935-1937
image "Forest Conservation" 1935-1937
image "No Job Open" 1935-1937
image "Out Doors" 1935-1937
image "CCC Still Life" 1935-1937
image "Showers" 1935-1937
image "Chow at Table 13" 1935-1937
image "Hey Look" 1935-1937
image "Study" 1935-1937
image "Fire Break" 1935-1937
image "Mail Call" 1935-1937
image "Sentimental Tunes" 1935-1937
image "Another Day" 1935-1937
image Flagpole 1935-1937
image Outside Camp Barracks 1935-1937
image Dance Night 1935-1937
image Self Portrait CCC 1935-1937
image Keeping Warm 1935-1937
image Drawing for "Chow at Table 13" 1935-1937
image CCC Self Portrait 1935-1937
image CCC Camp Mt. Madonna 1935-1937
image Planting Tree 1935-1937
image Inside Barracks 1935-1937
image Drawing for "Hot Stuff" 1935-1937
image Drawing for "Sentimental Tunes" 1935-1937
image Revised Drawing for "Hot Stuff" 1935-1937