|Life Dates||born 1924|
|Place of Birth||Philadelphia, PA, USA|
|Birth Name||Dina Kevles|
Dina Kevles was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and grew up in the city’s northern reaches where she attended Gratz High School. After graduation in 1941, Kevles went directly onto the “preparatory program” at the Philadelphia Museum School of the Industrial Arts (now University of the Arts), which was the foundation for the school’s art and design programs.1 She also attended classes at Tyler School of Art around the same time.2 In 1944, she married Hugh Mesibov (1916-2016), also a Philadelphia-based artist who was gaining prominence for his surrealist-inspired social viewpoint work and had contributed to the development of carborundum etching at Philadelphia’s Graphic Arts Workshop supported by the Works Progress Administration.3 Likely through Mesibov’s encouragement, Kevles enrolled in the art education program at the Barnes Foundation for the 1944-45 session and again in 1945-46 (he had attended four seasons between 1936 and 1940).4 Together, the Mesibovs moved to New York City in winter of 1946. Kevles was awarded an “out-of-town” scholarship to the Art Students League for the 1946-47 academic year and studied with Nahum Tschacbsov, Harry Sternberg, Jose de Creeft, and Morris Kantor.5 The couple separated by the spring of 1948 and both remarried: Mesibov in 1949 to the opera singer Eudice Charney, and Kevles to John C. Gustin, a psychoanalyst who died in 1964, and later a businessman named William Baker. She traveled to Mexico in 1950, and the trip served as inspiration for the expressionistic, semi-abstract paintings she exhibited in her first solo show at Roko Gallery in December 1951. In 1953, she earned a scholarship to attend Atelier 17, then under Peter Grippe’s management, and was very active working on plates for approximately one year though none of these have yet been located.6 Now based in Florida, Kevles continues to paint and exhibit her work locally. It has maintained an abstract quality and relates to issues of speed, time, and motion.
Dina Gustin Baker papers, 1946-1978, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Ashton, Dore. “Dina Kevles Displays Paintings at RoKo.” New York Times, September 26, 1958.
B. P. “Dina Kevles.” Art Digest 26 (December 1, 1951): 21.
Dina Gustin Baker: A Retrospective: Paintings, 1940-2012. New York: Walter Wickiser Gallery, Inc., 2013.
I. H. S. “Dina Kevles.” Art News 57 (October 1958): 47.
Sorensen, Ora. “Dina Gustin Baker, Artist, Friend, and Inspiration.” Professional Artists Magazine. Accessed December 20, 2013.
- Kevles attended the Philadelphia Museum School between September 1941 and February 1943. Her attendance records were confirmed by Rosemary Savoia, Records Systems Manager, The University of the Arts, email to Christina Weyl, April 3, 2017. ↩
- According to Tyler’s records, the artist attended class sporadically but did not formally matriculate or graduate. Mollie Tronco Repetto, email to Christina Weyl, May 16, 2017. ↩
- Thank you to Hugh Mesibov’s daughter, Barbara Mesibov, who confirmed the marriage between her father and Kevles. Her mother, Eudice Charney Mesibov, recalled meeting Dina Kevles in 1946 at a party organized by her talent agent, Ida Goldberg, and the literary couple Stymean and Davis Weiss. Eudice remembers being impressed with Kevles, who she characterized as an “exciting woman, inhabiting the world freely, courageous and interesting.” Eudice returned to Philadelphia and saw Dina and Hugh again in 1948, by which point they had split. Soon after, Eudice and Hugh began their courtship. Deborah Mesibov, email to Christina Weyl, March 29, 2017. ↩
- See letters between Dina Kevles and Albert C. Barnes, August 14, 1944 through November 2, 1950, Albert C. Barnes Correspondence, Barnes Foundation Archives, Philadelphia, PA. ↩
- Student registration card (alphabetized under “Kevles”), Art Students League of New York. ↩
- Student ledger book, p. 48, Allentown Art Museum/Grippe Collection, Allentown, Penn. ↩