Frank V. Dudley (American 1868-1957) was born in Delavan, Wisconsin, the eldest of three brothers. Both parents were deaf, but the three children were fully hearing. In Delavan, young Frank was a childhood friend to future Brown County, Indiana, artist Adolph Robert Shulz (American 1869-1963). After high school, Dudley began working as a commercial painter for his father’s business. Frank had always showed artistic talent however, and his father encouraged him to study fine art. The next few years saw Frank traveling back and forth from Delavan to Chicago, alternating between business entrepreneurship and taking art instruction. Eventually, Frank and his brother Clarence established a commercial photography studio in Chicago. Frank also continued his fine art ambitions, and first had paintings accepted into exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1902, beginning his career as a professional fine artist. He also began exhibiting with the Society of Western Artists in 1903. After his wife Mahala’s death of tuberculosis in 1904, Dudley became more active in the Chicago art world, including exhibiting with the Palette and Chisel Club. Dudley married his second wife, Maida, in 1913. Dudley and his family were active with the Dunes Pageant of 1917, an event attended by 40,000 people that was centered on preserving the Indiana Dunes on the southern edge of Lake Michigan. Dudley created a seminal painting of the event, and he subsequently began featuring the area almost exclusively in his work. Dudley became nationally known for his Indiana Dunes subjects, and the number of dunes paintings he eventually exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Society of Western Artists, and the Hoosier Salon totaled well over 800. Frank Dudley won the prestigious Logan Medal at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1921, and he also won eight major prizes at the Hoosier Salon between 1927 and 1941. Between his artistic focus on the dunes, and his tireless environmental activism, Dudley became inextricably linked to the area. He was christened “The Seer of the Dunes.”
Sources: Judith Vale Newton and Carol Weiss, “A Grand Tradition: The Art and Artists of the Hoosier Salon, 1925–1990," Hoosier Salon Patrons Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1993; Rachel Berenson Perry, “Frank V. Dudley: Artist and Activist of the Indiana Dunes,” in the magazine “Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History,” Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, Indiana, Summer, 2004, pp.14–23; James R. Dabbert and others, “The Indiana Dunes Revealed: The Art of Frank V. Dudley,” Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana, and University of Illinois Press, Urban and Chicago, 2006.