Howard Edwin Hack Biography

Howard Edwin Hack




Howard Edwin Hack , painter, printmaker, and sculptor, was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on July 6, 1932.  In 1939 he moved with his family to Oakland, California. His career began as a teenager in the late 1940s when he exhibited his self-taught paintings at popular venues Vesuvio Cafe and The Coffee Gallery in the North Beach area of San Francisco, establishing himself among the North Beach artists and the greater Bay Area Figurative movement.

In 1949 Hack became a summer student of Yasuo Kuniyoshi at Mills College. Between the years 1950 and 1953, he studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts and the San Francisco Art Institute, and independently with Martin Baer, learning Flemish oil painting techniques.

In 1953 Hack was drafted and sent to Korea as a truck driver and clerk-typist. When he returned to the United States he occupied a studio space in the Spreckels Mansion, known as the Ghost House, with other artists, such as Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, and Hayward King. He participated in his first exhibition in 1955 at the Oakland Art Museum's Western Painters Annual. 

Hack lived in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico between 1957 and 1959, where he developed his painting style further, focusing on Mexican culture and daily life, as well as religious subjects. Returning once more to the U.S., he enrolled at the University of San Francisco and, on the advice of North Beach luminary Lawrence Ferlinghetti, he rented studio space in the Audiffred Building with fellow artists Frank Lobdell, Hassell Smith, Sonia Getchoff, and others. In 1962 he received a B.A. in philosophy, with a focus on Kantian concepts of symbolism, which would be incorporated into his future work. Among his most notable works was a the "Blue Print" series, featuring images that incorporated symbols printed in blue ink on paper, appearing similar to solar prints. He was represented on the West Coast by Gump's and John Bolles; on the East Coast, by Lee Nordness Gallery, New York.

Howard Hack continued to live and work in San Francisco for the rest of his life, exhibiting throughout California and the U.S. to critical acclaim. He would become known by critics as a Magic Realist - though he himself did not refer to his work or methods in that way. He would also become a beloved neighbor to fellow artists and others living in the Laurel Heights neighborhood where he kept his studio. He died in Oakland, California on June 11, 2015.

His work is held in the collections of the Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts, SF, CA; Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Mass.; Metro Media, Los Angeles, CA; the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; the Oakland Art Museum; the San Jose Museum of Art; Seattle First National Bank, WA; Sara Roby Foundation, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washingtong, D.C.; the University of San Francisco; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, among others. 

Selected Solo Shows: 
1959: Galerie de la Parroquia, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
1962, '63: Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, CA 
1965, '68, '71, '72: Gump's Gallery, San Francisco, CA 
1967: M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA
1968: San Jose College, San Jose, CA; Lee Nordness Gallery, New York
1972: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA; Mills College, Oakland, CA (retrospective)
1976: Triangle Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1978: Zara Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1980: "Selections from the Blue Print Series", University Art Gallery, California State Univ., Chico, CA

Awards and Prizes:
Jack London Art Festival, Oakland, CA: First Prize, 1961, '64, '65
Painted Flower Exhibition, the Oakland Art Museum: Purchase Award, 1962, '63
San Francisco Museum of Art's 84th Annual Exhibition: Ann Bremer Award, 1965
Whitney Annual of Contemporary Art, Whitney Museum, New York: Neysa McMein Purchase Award
National Academy of Arts and Letters, New York: Richard and Hilda Rosenthal Foundation Award for Painting, 1966
Whitney Annual of Contemporary Art, Whitney Museum, New York: Sara Robey Foundation Award for Painting, 1967
American Academy of Arts and Letters: Childe Hassam Foundation Purchase Award, 1969