New photos of Karl King discovered

Images to be unveiled by in ceremony at Fort Dodge Public Library

-Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Hans Madsen Karl King Archives volunteer Nancy Olson looks over some of the records documenting the restoration of several pieces of art featuring King.

FORT DODGE – One of Fort Dodge’s best known citizens, composer and band leader Karl L. King, was born in 1891.

Sometime, probably in 1895, his mom took him to a portrait photographer.

He was 4 then and still living in Ohio.

For posterity, she wrote a note on the the photograph.

“Karl King.” it reads, “Four years old, first picture.”

While that may seem pretty old to first have a picture made, at that time, it was a much more involved and expensive process. Many people were only photographed at milestones in their lives.

That image, along with three others, have recently been restored and will be unveiled for the public on June 29 during a ceremony at the Fort Dodge Public Library.

Karl L. King Archives volunteer Nancy Olson said the age four portrait had to be restored digitally. It was not in good shape and the photographer, remains unknown.

“We have no idea who took it,” she said. “It was in Ohio someplace.”

The second image of King dates from the 1920s. It’s oil and ink on canvas. The third image, from the 1940s, is an oil painting. It was painted by Carl L. Sigmund (1895-1949). Sigmund was a church decorator and church interior designer who did work in Fort Dodge and elsewhere in Iowa. The final image dates from 1966, it’s a photograph that’s hand colored with thinned oil paints and ink. It was done by Kay Isaacson (1920-2004). She taught photographic painting and had a studio in Algona, she was later employed by Baldwin Studio in Fort Dodge.

Olson sought out the advice of conservator Barry Bauman in Chicago.

“I took everything to him,” Olson said. “He advised what needed to be done.”

The actual restoration work was done by several individuals. The 1966 and the 1920s images were restored by Julian Baumgartner at Fine Art Restoration in Chicago. The 1940s oil painting was restored by Bauman and the digital restoration of the four year-old picture was done by Seaborg in Chicago.

During the unveiling, Olson will be present a program about the life of Karl L. King. Each image is representative of different stages in King’s career.

“The 1920, 1940 and 1966 images were done by Fort Dodge artists,” she said. “We will tell what Karl King did in those years and talk about his life in Fort Dodge. It’s really all about Fort Dodge.”

The images will remain preserved with the Karl L. King Archives.

“It’s a way for us to bring Karl King back to the community one more time,” she said.

Funding for the restoration was through the Karl L. King Archives.