A brief note in the Albuquerque Journal alerted me to the fact that two US visual artists of note—Lez Haas (1911-2001) and his wife, Eleanor Haas (1919-2001)—and their two young children spent the summer of 1957 in Ajijic. The note refers to them having “devoted several weeks” of their trip to painting. The timing is significant because it came shortly after his first solo show in Santa Barbara, California.
Lez L Haas was born in Berkeley, California, on 10 March 1911. He studied at San Francisco State College and at the Hans Hofmann School of Art, and earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from UC Berkeley.
He married Eleanor Pauling French on 11 June 1941; the couple’s two children were Averill (born circa 1942) and Jonathan (born 1949).
The family moved to New Mexico in 1947, where Haas was head of the art department until 1963. In 1963, the family then moved to Tucson, Arizona, when Haas became Chairman of the art department at the University of Arizona, a position which he held until retiring in 1977. In retirement, Haas and his wife moved to the small town of El Rito in northern New Mexico, where Haas died on 31 July 2001.
Haas worked in a variety of media, including oils, watercolors and photography, and had solo shows at the Santa Barbara Museum (1956) and the University of Arizona (1963). His work was also exhibited at the San Francisco Art Association (1938-40), the Museum of New Mexico (1957, when he won a prize), Stanford University (1958) and California Palace of the Legion of Honor (1959).
Haas was the co-author with Reginald Fisher of A Retrospective Exhibition of Painting by Raymond Jonson (University of New Mexico Art Gallery, Santa Fe, 1956).
Eleanor Haas was born on 11 September 1919 in Bay City, Michigan. After completing high school in the Midwest, she moved to California to study for her B.A. at Stanford. She gained a MFA at the Art Center in Pasadena, California. She continued to develop her art while raising the couple’s two children, and after she and her husband moved to El Rito. Her preferred media were oils, pen and ink, and charcoal.
I am now in contact with the Haas family (see comments) and hope to expand this post in the near future.
- Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico) 25 Aug 1957, 15:
- Edan Hughes. 1989. Artists in California, 1786-1940. Hughes Pub. Co.
- Who’s Who in American Art 1956-82.
- Art of Lez and Eleanor Haas. Website.
Comments, corrections or additional material related to any of the writers and artists featured in our series of mini-bios are welcome. Please use the comments feature at the bottom of individual posts, or email us.
Tony Burton’s books include “Lake Chapala: A Postcard History” (2022), “Foreign Footprints in Ajijic” (2022), “If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants” (2020), (available in translation as “Si Las Paredes Hablaran”), “Mexican Kaleidoscope” (2016), and “Lake Chapala Through the Ages” (2008).
Hello, I may be able to help you. I’m not sure why you didn’t hear back from my daughter, who runs the Art of Lez and Eleanor Haas website, but those forms one submits are notoriously quick to disappear. Lez and Eleanor were my in-laws, (my husband is Jonathan) and I’m happy to try and answer any questions, though their stay at Lake Chapala was long before my time in the family.
Hi Winifred, Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I’m responding properly via email, Best wishes, Tony.
I own two pictures done by Lez in the early 50’s or 60’s I am guessing. My father taught in Albuquerque at the same time (some overlap) and I remember as a girl visiting them in Tucson. (Perhaps 1967?) Both pictures are painted on photographs. One I am sure is of Eleanor. I, coincidentally, live in Santa Barbara.
Happy to send photos if you are interested.
Hi Deborah, Thanks for taking the time to comment. And, yes! I’d love to see photos, please, via this email. Regards, TB.
Lez and Eleanor were my parents. Though it was many years ago, I have great memories of our time in Ajijic. Hell, I had my own burro! My parents went to Mexico as much as their time would allow on sabbaticals and vacations: In addition to Ajijic: Oaxaca, San Miguel Allende (before it was an American colony), Chihuahua, Mexico City. My father painted a lot on these trips and my mother did pen and ink drawings (mostly). By the time they were in Oaxaca (60s?) they were both doing photography. Any questions about them, let me know. My daughter, Amanda Haas, is now curating the remaining collection of their art, and she can be reached through her website at http://haasartwork.com