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Sharon Kobernick
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Paul Harris

November 5, 1925 ~ May 13, 2018

Paul Harris, a versatile and prolific artist, was born on November 5, 1925 in Orlando, Florida and died on May 13, 2018 in Bozeman, Montana, surrounded by his family.

Paul Harris graduated from Orlando High School in May 1944 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was assigned to the destroyer, USS Ault in the Pacific Theatre. On May 13, 1945, the Ault was attacked by a kamikaze aircraft, which was shot down (“splashed”) by the gunner and Paul who supplied the ammunition belts. He never boasted about this event. When he spoke about it, he only repeated his admiration for the gunner who kept amazingly calm when death was only a few seconds away.

During the more tranquil times aboard the Ault, Paul made numerous drawings of his fellow sailors. These drawings were published in a book in 2017 by the Wrongtree Press. On September 2, 1945, the Ault was in Tokyo Bay and was stationed next to the USS Missouri where the Japanese surrender took place. Paul made a drawing of the surrender ceremony.

Paul earned his B.A. and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of New Mexico and his doctorate from Columbia University. At the University of New Mexico, he formed a life-long close friendship with a fellow art student, Richard Diebenkorn. He married Marguerite Kirk, a graduate of the University of Chicago, in June 1950.

Paul had a lengthy career as an art and design professor. He taught at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, the San Francisco Art Institute, Knox College in Jamaica, State University of New York in New Paltz, Sacramento State University, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile, where he was Artist in Residence and a Fulbright Scholar, as well as many other institutions.

As an artist, Paul created sculptures in a variety of media including bronze, wood, string, cloth and paper mache. Some of his cloth sculptures were shown at the New York World’s Fair in 1965. His color drawings, made with crayons, were primarily flowers and still life such as a bowl of mangoes. His black and white drawings were mostly portraits. Paul’s wide-ranging artistic creativity was recognized by several awards and grants. He was a Guggenheim Fellow and a Arthur Wesley Dow Scholar at Columbia University. Paul was a Fellow at the Tamarind Institute of Lithography in Los Angeles and the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. He received the Neallie Sullivan award from the San Francisco Art Institute, the Lebovitz Foundation grant as well as numerous other awards.

Paul’s cloth sculptures were the focus of a book published in 1975 by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., the first company in the United States to specialize in publishing art and illustrated books. Paul’s drawings were the subject of a comprehensive book published by the University of Washington Press in 1998. Paul’s sculptures were the subject of a comprehensive book published by the University of Washington Press in 2000. Some examples of his works of art can be seen on his website: paulharrisart.com

Paul’s works of art are found in numerous collections around the world including the Yale University Art Gallery, the Hungarian National Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Harry N. Abrams Art Collection, both in New York City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Neue Galerie der Stadt Aachen, Germany. A bronze sculpture, titled Hans in Winter, is displayed, outside, just to the left of the main entrance to the Emerson Cultural Center.

Paul was also a skilled short story writer. A collection of his short stories, titled Phases of the Moon, were published in 1995 by the Wrongtree Press.

He is survived by wife, Marguerite Kirk Harris, sons Christopher and Nicholas, numerous grandchildren and one great grandson.

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"Thank you for all you did for us regarding our Dad's funeral.  I know many times you went the extra mile for us and we appreciate it.  As hard as it was, you made the planning easier.  Chris, you have a gift and may you continue to bless people.  We will always be grateful for you."

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