Anna Keener was a painter, graphic artist, teacher, and writer, was born in Flagler, Colorado, and grew up in Dalhart, Texas. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1916, and a Master of Arts degree in 1918 from Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas. She also attended summer sessions of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, in 1917 and 1919.
At Bethany College, Keener was both a student and assistant to Birger Sandzen, a professor of block printing Keener credited as one of her finest teachers. (She also thought highly of etchers Paulus and Bertha Jacques, and lithographers Joseph A. Imhof and George Myasaki, teachers she would encounter in her varied and many-year career as a student of art).
Keener attended evening classes at the Detroit School of Design while serving as a clerk in the United States Navy in that city during World War I. After the War, she taught in the Globe, Arizona, public schools, then at Kansas City High School, in Kansas, while attending the Kansas City Art Institute, in Missouri, in 1923. Keener moved to Alpine, Texas to teach drawing at Sul Ross State Teachers College, from 1925-1927. She lived again in Dalhart for a time before teaching in New Mexico schools at Red River, Ojo Caliente, Las Vegas, and Gallup. She painted a mural in the McKinley County Courthouse in Gallup.
Keener studied in Mexico City in 1941, and in 1942, she began a twelve-year period as teacher and head of the art department at Eastern New Mexico University, Portales. During this time, Keener was back in school in 1949 at Colorado State Teachers College, Greeley, and in 1951, she received a Master of Arts degree from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. She studied again in 1953 in Mexico City.
Retiring from Eastern New Mexico University in 1954, Keener moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she was active in the art life, jurying exhibitions and continuing to paint. In 1962 she was back in school yet again, studying at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. She was the author of Spontaneity in Design (Kansas City: Missouri Valley Press, 1923). She was married to Louis Raymond Wilton, and Keener died in her Santa Fe home.
Keener held memberships in the American Artists Professional League; American Federation of Arts; Art of America Society; Artists Equity; International Institute of Arts and Letters; National and New Mexico Art Education Associations; Southern States Art League; and Western Art Association.
Anna Keener's work is in the collections of Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas; Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas; Texas Historical Society; Museum of Fine Arts and New Mexico State Library, Santa Fe; Santa Fe Public Library; Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico; San Francisco Public Library, California; John H. Vanderpoel Art Association, Chicago, Illinois; Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas; and University of Oklahoma, Norman.
Anna Keener's exhibitions included:
Annual Exhibition of Texas Artists, Dallas Woman's Forum (1927); Annual Texas Artists Exhibition, Fort Worth (1927); Southern States Art League Annual Exhibition (1930); Painters and Sculptors of New Mexico, Santa Fe (1949-1950); Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe (1953 prize, 1956 and 1958 one-woman, 1968); Springville Museum of Art, Utah (1957 and 1958 one-woman); Tucson Art Festival, Arizona (1958 one-woman); Sandzen Memorial Gallery, Lindsborg, Kansas (1959 one-woman); High Plains Gallery, Amarillo, Texas (1960 one-woman); University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (1964 one-woman); New Mexico Arts Commission, Santa Fe (1967 one-woman); Women Artists in Texas 1850-1950, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon (1993); Annual Exhibition of Texas Artists, Dallas Woman's Forum (prize); Library of Congress, Washington D.C.; San Francisco Public Library; Mid-Western Artists Annual Exhibition, Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri; New Mexico State Fair, Albuquerque; Roswell Museum of Art, New Mexico.