Born in New Orleans in 1912, Kohlmeyer has been called one of the best Abstract Impressionist painters of the South. She began her career as an artist in mid-life after raising her family. She entered Newcomb College as an art student in 1950 and earned a master’s degree in painting. In 1956 she moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts to experiment with Abstract Expressionism alongside Hans Hofmann. Known for his use of color, Hoffman persuaded her to turn to abstraction in her work. She also later studied with Mark Rothko when he was artist in residence at Tulane University. In the 1970s, Ida developed her distinctive vocabulary of shape and symbols. In the early 1980s she began work on what would be her acclaimed series of boldly painted elaborately shaped metal sculpture. Ida worked every day in the studio adjacent to her Metairie home and rose garden until her death in January, 1997.
Kohlmeyer received a number of awards for her artistic achievement, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Women’s Caucus for Art, New York, NY, USA (1980), the Museum Purchase Award, Twenty-first Southeastern Annual Exhibition, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, USA (1966), and the Ford Foundation Purchase Award, Twenty-eighth Corcoran Biennial of Contemporary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA (1963). Her work has been featured in many prominent museum collections including the Corcoran Museum, Washington D.C.; Weisman Foundation, Los Angeles, CA; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Jewish Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; National Collection of Art, Smithsonian, Washington D.C.; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.