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David Merkel Landis was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1918 and died in Berkeley, California in 1983. He graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1941, served in the European theater during World War II from 1942-45, and returned to the Art Institute of Chicago as a faculty member in 1947. He continued to teach there with the title of Associate Professor of Drawing and Painting until 1969. His work was included in numerous exhibitions in the Midwest and East from 1939-1973; including ten one-man shows at private galleries in Detroit, Chicago, and Edgartown, Massachusetts. His gallery exhibits included the June Holmes Gallery (1951), Frank Ryan Gallery (1952), Old Town Art Center (1960, 1962, 1964), Cliff Dwellers (1966), and Depaul University Gallery (1966).
Esther was born Aug. 16, 1916, in Franklin, to Louis O. and Grace (Griffin) Johnson.
Esther was married to the painter David Landis (b.1918-1983) and they occasionally collaborated on the designs of her ceramics.
After attending John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, she studied art at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, obtaining a bachelor of arts degree in 1940 and a master’s degree in 1941. During the war years, she worked in drafting at Curtis Wright, a manufacturer of cargo planes.
She began teaching art in the Chicago public school system in 1951. Esther was a prolific, talented studio ceramicist, who with her husband was active in the first art fairs in Old Town Chicago. Her artwork was exhibited at juried shows nationally and in a traveling Smithsonian display of American craft.
In 1972 Esther and David moved from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay Area where they set-up the Landis Studio.
Examples of Esther's ceramic work are in the permanent collection of the Johnson County Museum of History in Indiana.