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.
My attempts to contact the Haas family via the website dedicated to the art of Lez and Eleanor Haas have so far been unsuccessful. If anyone can tell me more about this talented artistic couple, especially in relation to their visit to Lake Chapala, please get in touch.
- 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.
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