Harold Balazs: Leaving Marks

February 3-June 2, 2024

Throughout his decades-long creative career, Harold Balazs (1928-2017) dedicated his practice to the simple, yet expansive, pursuit of wonder. From his eclectic home in Mead, Washington, surrounded by hand-made furniture, concrete reliefs, wooden figures, calligraphy, enameled signage, and characters drawn from his imagination, Balazs became renowned for his craftsmanship and experimentation across scales, processes, and materials.

Balazs believed that all peoples carry an intrinsic drive to leave behind visual records of participation in the world, and rejected assumptions that the “marks” left by some cultures or individuals were superior to others. He drew inspiration from far-reaching sources, including mythology, folk art, global symbols, nature, and everyday activities–elements of which he remixed into signature archetypal forms that defined much of his work. Although improvisational, this visual language is a form of autobiography, telling a non-linear story of the artist’s life and humanistic beliefs–especially the value of communal expression.

Harold Balazs: Leaving Marks celebrates thirty new additions to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture’s permanent collection. This focused selection of Balazs’ later sculptures, drawings, and enamels, considers ways in which Balazs approached artmaking as an egalitarian mode of communication and connection.

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Watch this introduction to Harold Balazs's artistic legacy.

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Header image: Harold Balazs, A Dialogue (detail), 2007, copper. Robert Poe Photography.