Ingrid Cromel Rehert, an artist and teacher whose creativity and versatility inspired her students, friends and fellow artists, died Thursday of cancer at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. She was 69.
A classically trained painter who worked in all media, Mrs. Rehert was best known for the hanging sculptures she created using large pieces of paper. In 1980, her piece titled "Endlesspiece N1" was included in a show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington. The wall-mounted work featured 10 curled, cone-shaped pieces of paper that she painstakingly covered with strokes of graphite pencil and hung from their corners in a row. Gleaming and smooth, the paper looked like sheets of metal.
"She was an artist down to her very bones," said Isaac Rehert, Mrs. Rehert's former husband, to whom she was married for 30 years.
Mrs. Rehert taught art privately in the second-floor studio of the Reservoir Hill home where she lived for more than 25 years. She also taught sculpture, painting and drawing at community colleges in Catonsville, Essex, Dundalk and Harford. She began her teaching career in 1950 at Garrison Forest School, where she taught art for two years.
She inspired her students.
"Whatever the area was she felt you were good at, she would encourage you to the hilt," said Dawn Murr, Mrs. Rehert's friend and former student. "She made [you] feel like [you] were good."
"She really was a very influential teacher," said Mrs. Rehert's half-sister, Christine Z. Broening of Baltimore. "So many people come up to me ... and say it was because of Ingrid they chose to become artists."
Born in Tallinn, Estonia, Mrs. Rehert moved with her family to Augsburg, Germany, during World War II.
At age 14, Mrs. Rehert enrolled in the Augsburg municipal art school. Her work was chosen as best-in-show in a citywide exhibition, and she was awarded the commission of a portrait of a town official.
She immigrated to Port Deposit in Cecil County in 1949.
After moving to the United States, Mrs. Rehert attended the Maryland Institute, College of Art, where she took a course with New York painter Babe Shapiro and began painting more abstractly. She received her bachelor's degree from the school in 1976.
From 1952 until 1975, she lived with her husband on their 58-acre farm in Port Deposit. Mrs. Rehert illustrated "Rock Run Hollow," a collection of columns published as a book in 1967 that Isaac Rehert wrote about life on the farm.
Her art varied widely, from stark pencil drawings of fish that had washed ashore to giant abstract works she painted using a broom to striped paper "barber poles" that wriggled when a viewer twisted or pulled a string.
As an artist, her pursuit of the latest styles in art was almost an obsession. "If it was already between the covers of a book it was too old for her," said Mr. Rehert, a former reporter for The Sun. "She had to do what the current edge of art was doing."
Mrs. Rehert's work was exhibited in galleries in New York, Baltimore and Washington and could be seen in such varied places as the three murals on the outside of William Paca Elementary School at North Lakewood Avenue and Fayette Street in Baltimore and at the Hiratsuka Museum in Hiratsuka City, Japan.
In 1982, Mrs. Rehert was one of five Maryland artists included in the Maryland Arts Council's "Works on Paper" exhibition that was shown in Japan.
"The sheets fall into their own self-made shapes and become a new medium with a variety of possibilities," Helen Frederick, guest curator of the "Works on Paper" exhibit wrote in the exhibition catalog.
Mrs. Rehert enjoyed gardening, filling her back yard with flowers and her three plots at the Druid Hill Community Garden with gooseberry and black currant bushes. Much of what she grew was given to friends.
For years, she invited an eclectic group of as many as 60 people to her home for an Orthodox Easter celebration, cooking the traditional breads and holiday foods of her childhood. "There was always room for everybody at her house," Mrs. Broening said.
No services will be held. However, Mrs. Rehert's family and friends are hoping to hold a retrospective exhibition of her work this year, to be followed by a celebration of her life.
In addition to her half-sister and former husband, Mrs. Rehert is survived by a half-brother, Stefan Zucker of Riverdale, N.Y., and four nephews and a niece.
Contributions may be made to the Druid Hill Community Garden c/o Christine Z. Broening, 5701 Greenleaf Road, Baltimore 21210.