Howard Hack
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Howard Hack

The distinguished artist Howard Hack has died peacefully in his Oakland home, at age 82. Mr. Hack's career spanned seven decades, beginning in the late 1940s when as a teenager he first exhibited paintings at Vesusio Cafe and the The Coffee Gallery in North Beach.

Between 1950-1953, Mr. Hack attended California College of Arts and Crafts and the San Francisco Art Institute, as well as training independently in Flemish oil painting technique with Martin Baer. He also studied with Yasuo Kuniyoshi at Mills College in the summer of 1949. In 1953, Hack was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to Korea.

Upon returning to the U.S., Mr. Hack resumed painting, occupying studio space in the Spreckels Mansion, also known as the Ghost House, along with other artists, including Wally Hedrick, Jay DeFeo, and Hayward King. From the Ghost House Hack attended the gathering at the nearby Six Gallery, where poet Alan Ginsberg debuted his poem Howl on October 7, 1955. Between 1957 and 1959, Hack lived in San Miguel de Allende, where he refined his painting style with works featuring Mexican religious and market scenes. Mr. Hack returned to the United States, enrolling as an undergraduate at the University of San Francisco (B.A. philosophy 1962).

In 1959, with a referral by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mr. Hack rented studio space with other artists on the third floor of the Audiffred Building in San Francisco. The artists included Frank Lobdell, Hassel Smith, Sonia Gechtoff, Madeline Dimond, Philip Roeber, Manuel Neri, and Joan Brown. Mr. Hack remained in the Audiffred Building until 1978, completing some of his most notable oil paintings and silverpoints.

In 1967, the M.H. De Young Museum, San Francisco, exhibited Mr. Hack's "Window Series," oil paintings depicting scenes from San Francisco's South of Market. In his review of the show, San Francisco Chronicle art critic Alfred Frankenstein used the phrase of New York Museum of Modern Art founding director Alfred H. Barr, when he praised the works as "magic realism."

In 1981, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor presented a collection of Mr. Hack's silverpoints. The show's catalog curator Robert Flynn Johnson wrote: "What will people think of Howard Hack's art one hundred years from now? What will they think of the time, patience and concentration necessary to create these works? What will they think of his seductive style and idiosyncratic subject matter? I believe that Howard Hack's art will age far more gracefully than the strained and artistic fashions that currently strut upon the stage of history. Time will tell."[4]

In San Francisco, Howard Hack was represented by the Richard Gump and John Bolles galleries. In New York, Hack's works were sold through Lee Nordness Gallery.

Mr. Hack's works are represented in the collections of numerous museums, including the Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts, San Francisco, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C., Oakland Art Museum, San Jose Museum of Art, Sara Robey Foundation, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Mr. Hack will be remembered for his vibrant personality and many acts of kindness to his family, friends, and neighbors in Oakland and San Francisco. He is survived by children and family members, CWO4 Hondo Justin Hack (wife Martina), grandchildren Jasmin and Jordan, Zzipper Mac Hack (husband Christian Asuncion), grandson Ricochet Asuncion, Pierian Piraeus (husband Peter Collier), and grandson Jethro Collier, and by his older brother Hiram Perry Hack (wife Marcelle), nephew Paul and niece Yvonne. A memorial gathering will be held for family and friends on June 27.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Jun. 23 to Jun. 26, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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15 entries
June 17, 2020
Howard Hack on his 65th birthday
Hard to believe it has been 5 YEARS, Howard! Especially since I still feel so close to you, looking at this photo of you every morning while I drink my coffee (taken on your 65th birthday - remember? I made a cake for you - a Martha Stewart Coconut Layer cake that was epic; weigh a ton and was a truly magnificent creation). Still so alive in my heart and mind and I can clearly hear your snarky take on the daily news in this new and awful time. Sending love to you in Spirit Land, my friend. You are missed!
Kathy Nolan
October 5, 2019
Dear H. - I'm sorry it has taken so long for me to read of your passing, it is still a shock and hard to write this. You wrote me a letter (still have it) in 1970 when we had first met and said "I had saved you" well, in retrospect we had saved each other.
I'm sorry I lost contact with you over the past few decades, that is the pain I must bare.
You will forever remain in my heart.
June 19, 2019
Our motto
Of course I will always remember you, H.H.! Your work is in every area of my life and I see you at every turn. Hoping the afterlife continues to be a source of wonderful surprises for you, dear pal - lots of love from Kathy
Kathleen M Nolan
November 14, 2017
Everyday after Laurel Hill pre-school, Hondo, Russell, myself and a few others would take the steps down to Howard's house where we would stay and play until our parents picked us up. Cook Island! - what a place to be a four year old! Thank you Howard.
Doug Hagan
July 2, 2015
Howard brought his Froggy to my son's birthday party on Geary Blvd. Kids loved it, Howard was a Star. He also wore his socks inside out.
Julia Fox
June 27, 2015
The only things we can best hope for in life is to leave behind our legacy and take with us our everlasting soul.Howard most assuredly accomplished both! peace be with you Howard love Rise
Rise Brown
June 27, 2015
SFC Butler, Regina, Brian M, Jonathan, Cecilia, and Jessica Butler would like to send out their deepest condolences to The Hack Family. We are truly sorry for your loss. You are in our thoughts and Prayers.
Regina Meraz
June 26, 2015
What great memories I have of Howard in SF in the early 1980's. He was an avid supporter of Jimmy Knight and the Daze and more than once invited us to play at an opening or other event. I have several of his paintings on my studio wall and they are a reminder of the wonderful times we had in SF. Howard is also the one who taught me the fine art of "Napology", a sleep technique he developed and I employ to this day! A truly gifted and unique individual. Rest well dear friend.

Paul Rogers aka Jimmy Knight
Paul Rogers
June 26, 2015
Will someone please tell me when and where the memorial will be taking place? I cannot find any information available.

I Work at the Beat Museum where I put together an exhibit on Howard a couple years ago. A close friend of his contacted me about memorial information, and I can find none.

Please contact me at or 707-752-7539

-Niko Van Dyke
Niko Van Dyke
June 26, 2015
Too many lost opportunities over the 65 years of our friendship.

I last spoke to Howard about a month ago when he called just to see if I was OK. Should I have sensed that he was failing? Since he always sounded so full of life and humor I somehow felt that he would actually make that trip overseas to Sausalito for a visit in the garden when he could take a break from archiving his work.

I treasure the memories and his artwork that he's shared over the years. I can't believe he's gone.

Love and deepest sympathy to Hondo, Zzipper and their families and to Howard's friends, and I know there are many.

Carol LeMasney Hayes, husband Allan and our sons Mark and Keith
June 26, 2015
To all of the family, my heartfelt condolences. Howard was a dear friend to my parents and was a wonderful part of my childhood--so grateful for that.
Connie (Dent) Bryan
June 26, 2015
In his studio, age 18.
There's only a hindquarter left - where once a proud steed flew ... scarlet! Crimson; now lacking the heft - of the concrete it once knew. Proud adornment of art; "Mobil" at last - announcing H.H. to all who walked past; now guards the remnants for the bereft. The last of the good life - us fortunate few: we were there for the magic, but now it is through. First Abe, then Gloria, and now it is you.... gone from Cook Island ~ adieu - adieu. HH we will miss you. Always.
kathy nolan
June 26, 2015
"Too many memories for one heart to hold"...
Kathy Nolan
June 26, 2015
Healing energy and tons of love to Howard's family and dear ones. He's definitely immortalized by his beautiful work and his amazing kids. Love & peace from The Zlaffs (friends of Zzip & Pi)
Steph & Glen Patzlaff
June 25, 2015
Hondo, we are sorry to hear about the death of your father. please accept our condolences in your time of sorrow. George and Mary Galaza
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