Ileta “Sweetie” Ladd was born in the early 1900s, in Bonham, TX to Edgar and Lou Kerr. She was the fifth child born, and the nickname “Sweetie” came from one of her older sisters. The family moved to Fort Worth in 1905. She graduated from Fort Worth’s Central High School and received degrees in English and Spanish from Texas Christian University in 1932. In the interim, she married Homer Ladd and had their only child; Homer Ladd, Jr. Ms. Ladd was a charter member of the Woman’s Club of Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Garden Club, Woman’s Wednesday Club and the Lecture Foundation. She and her husband were both members of First Presbyterian Church.
At age sixty, she took up painting. Ms. Ladd joined the art department of the Women’s Club of Fort Worth where she studied under Bror Utter who also painted historic Fort Worth landmarks. She also took workshops taught by Frederic Taubes who advised her to stop her instruction and start painting. From then on, Ms. Ladd concentrated solely on painting. Her first paintings were the series, “Cries of Fort Worth.” While her work was often compared to Grandma Moses, Ms. Ladd preferred her work to be described as “eclectic primitive.”
Although her career did not start until later in her life, her talents were recognized in her lifetime. She had a painting included in the “American Painters in Paris” exhibition in 1976. In 1982, Sundance Gallery in Fort Worth held a show of her work. When she could no longer paint watercolors because of the unsteadiness of her hand, she did hand-colored engravings instead. She passed away on April 26, 1991, and was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
- Lale, Cissy Stewart. Sweetie Ladd’s Historic Fort Worth. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1999.
In April 1979, Ms. Ladd entered an agreement with the Fort Worth Public Library to permanently loan the 38 artworks to Library so they could be displayed on a rotating basis. After Ms. Ladd’s death in 1991, the loan agreement was terminated and her artwork was appraised to be sold. With donations from the public, the library was able to purchase the 38 pieces and make them part of the library’s permanent collection.
Scope and Contents Note
The collection consists of 38 pieces of Sweetie Ladd’s work and includes 1 oil painting, 5 pencil etchings and 32 watercolors featuring historic Fort Worth scenes and landmarks. There are also information cards and an exhibit board that were created when the pieces were shown in the Fort Worth Library. The materials date from the 1960s-2000s and measure 3.00 linear feet (3 storage racks, 1 box). The collection is arranged into 3 series:
- Series I: “Cries of Fort Worth”
- Series II: Fort Worth City Landmarks
- Series III: Historic Events and Exhibit Materials.
- Lale, Cissy Stewart. Sweetie Ladd’s Historic Fort Worth. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1999. (759.13 LADD)
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Last updated: Oct. 9, 2014