Harold Balazs was born in 1928 in Westlake, Ohio, in Cuyahoga County near Cleveland. He graduated from Washington State University in 1951 and has worked in the visual arts ever since. He taught for several years at the Spokane Art Center, a department of WSU that was housed in the Corbin House in the 1950’s.
He is best known for his public works of art in communities large and small throughout the Pacific Northwest. The most prominent work is the recently competed fountain of stainless steel and basalt that was installed in Riverfront Park. Other public commissions can be seen at Whitworth University, Global Credit Union, and Mount Spokane High School. The Mount Spokane pieces were so mammoth that they had to be helicoptered into the interior courtyard for installation. Since his father was involved in the building trades, Harold has always been concerned with using inexpensive, yet lasting materials in his multi-media works. A polymath, he can take a wide variety of materials and create a piece of art that is multi-layered in meaning and substance. For example, he produced a popular and inexpensive series of concrete lawn ornaments by using scrap plywood and Styrofoam to make a mold, which he then filled with concrete. His well-known glowing enamel paintings were first produced on the lids of washers and dryers that he found at the landfill. You know you have an early Balazs if you have the pre-printed instructions for use on the reverse side.
Besides being a prolific artist, Harold has been an influential mentor to many of this area’s most accomplished artists. Known as “Uncle Harold”, he has been available for joint projects with Ken Spiering, Steve Adams, Kay O’Rourke, and Ric Gendron, for example. He continued his teaching work with the Spokane Art School by hosting four-day workshops at his studio in Mead, making all of his tools and materials available to the students for creative work. For many years, Harold has helped to arrange Eye for Art, an art auction that benefits the arts curriculum for the Mead School District.
Balazs is able, through his tireless abstraction, to create a universal language of symbols. Endlessly inventive, he combines images of animals, people, machines, insects and hieroglyphic symbols in his sculpture and painting. His work is permeated with an ironic sense of humor and also with a deep sense of spirituality.