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."
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.