Paul Havas: A Life of Painting honors the forty-year career of an artist known for his large-scale landscapes and cityscapes. Born, raised, and educated on the East Coast, Paul Havas (1940-2012) came to the Northwest for graduate school at the University of Washington and ultimately became one of the major painters of the region. A studio in the Collins Building in Seattle in the 1970s introduced Havas to a community of artists and inspiration that stayed with him throughout his prolific career. For a decade, he had a studio and home on Fir Island in Skagit Valley, and his paintings reflected the wide expanses of farmland, river, and sky distinct to that area. After he moved back to Seattle in 1983, Havas created a series of paintings set in the city: night scenes of buildings and empty streets; daytime panoramas that incorporated the angles and geometry of the city plan; and tall, narrow paintings capturing glimpses of urban vistas. Nature was always an inspiration, and Havas made many trips into the mountains to fish, hike, and climb. Additionally, Havas and fellow artist Clayton James made numerous extended trips, searching out painting sites along the back roads of eastern Washington, Oregon, and the Pacific Coast. Beneath it all, Havas had a deep knowledge of European and American art, and his travels outside of the Northwest and early teaching positions informed his painting as much as his immediate surroundings. His final series of paintings, set in the coastal area near Willapa Bay, distill the essence of land and water and architecture, a culmination of decades-long devotion to painting, to capturing light, and to conveying a sense of place.
In conjunction with MoNA's exhibition, the book titled Paul Havas has been published by Lucia|Marquand and is being distributed by University of Washington Press. With an introduction by longtime former Seattle gallery owner Francine Seders and a comprehensive essay by art critic Matthew Kangas, the book informs our exhibition, with groupings of paintings by theme: farmland, city, geology, wetlands, islands, and coast. Early works, sketches, and notebooks augment the paintings on view, and provide a closer, deeper look at a painter whose work transcended the landscapes he portrayed.