Ohio painter Clara Deike was originally from Detroit, where she was born in 1881. Her training probably began around one hundred years ago, at the Cleveland School of Art under Henry G. Keller (1869-1949) and Frederick C. Gottwald (1858-1941), Cleveland’s leading impressionist painter. Gottwald influenced his students to paint en plein air and to see violet, luminous shadows. Keller, who spent 1899 to 1902 in the Munich Academy, probably would have urged Deike to study there, however, she sought out the modernist Hans Hofmann (1880-1966), rather than an academic painter. Deike’s instruction under Hofmann would have been after the first world war, when his own school was attracting foreign students (1918-29). Later she was a student of Hugh Breckenridge (1870-1937) at his school of art at Rocky Neck, East Gloucester (MA), which he directed between 1920 and 1937. Yet another teacher was Diego Rivera, with whom Deike studied in Mexico, some time between 1922 and 1930 when he was executing murals in Mexico City.
After such exciting and varied art studies, Deike settled in Cleveland where she became a secondary school art teacher and exhibited regularly at the Cleveland Museum of Art. There she won numerous awards. Other exhibitions include those at the Washington Art Club (1924), the Ohio Water Color Society, the Dayton Art Institute (1931), the YWCA in Boston (1943), and she exhibited in Gloucester between 1953 and 1960. In addition, Deike lectured on modern creative design. Cleveland’s Central High School has her paintings Through the Trees and Italian Fishing Boats, Gloucester, and the Cleveland Board of Education owns her picture called Flowers.
Deike’s earliest works are impressionistic, under the influence of Gottwald. Then around 1911, she may have met William Sommer (1867-1949), who offered a more post-impressionist direction for Cleveland artists. For instance, he would found the progressive Kakoon Art Klub in Cleveland in 1912. After working under Hofmann, cubist elements entered Deike’s style.