This poster is a tribute to Clara Barck Welles, a creative, economic and political force in the Park Ridge Art Colony. Degreed as an architect but unable to find work because of her gender, Welles established the Kalo Shop in Park Ridge, IL in 1907, inspired by the Arts and Crafts legend William Morris. Welles hired other talented American women as designers and well-trained men, mostly Scandinavian immigrants, as silversmiths. One apprentice silversmith who worked and lived in Park Ridge was Grant Wood, future world-famous painter of the iconic “American Gothic.”
By 1916, the Kalo shop employed two dozen people in Park Ridge. As its fame grew, Welles relocated it to Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile.” Hand-wrought pieces by Kalo artists are the preeminent silver of the American Arts & Crafts movement.
Welles also was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement, helping Illinois women win the right to vote in Presidential elections in 1913, seven years before the 19th Amendment gave U.S. women full voting rights in 1920.