Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

Harry Hazzard (1900-1966)
Harry Hazzard, was a sculptor turned painter. After many years of success in the sculpturing medium in the east, where many wealthy patrons bought his bronze castings--and success, too, in the field of interior architecture, where he sold designs for yachts and mansion interiors as well as "sets" for the movies - he turned to canvas and oils. All he wanted to paint was Indians -- the plains Indians who were the leaders of the proud people who once not only roamed but owned this part of the country. In doing this he believed that at last -- after years of weary struggle and searching -- he had found his true artistic love, the form of art and the art subject in which he could best express himself. Since boyhood he had been a serious student of the American Indian, particularly of the Sioux and other western plains tribes. While he lived in New York -- 20 dull and tedious years, he said -- his studies took him to the American Museum of Natural History and to the American Indian (Heye) foundation. He drew upon the learning gained then and upon his recent years of association with Indians in the west, in his painting. For 12 years he studied them and listened to their legends. As he looked back on his life, Hazzard once said, it should be no surprise that finally he had "found" himself artistically with the Indians, for as a youngster in North Dakota he became fascinated by them and the fascination really never left. Hazzard was born in Grafton, North Dakota, September 24, 1900. His first close association, with Indians came when he was seven years old. The family moved to Devils Lake, which at that time was a salten lake big enough to support a steamship business. Immediately he began to play with Indian boys from nearby Fort Totten "in the weird black oaks country." These Indian boys were Sioux. Hazzard recalled trying even then to draw pictures of his Indian "pals." He and his sister, Leta, who later also become an artist, spent most of their time trying to draw pictures. When Hazzard was in his freshman year at the Grafton high school, his father J.H.Hazzard, moved to Billings to enter the insurance business. After he had been at Billings Polytechnic about three years, his mother decided that something must be done to give Harry and Leta a chance at the art education they both coveted. She gathered up the two children and took them to New York City. After a family conference, it was decided that Harry should go in for some form of art education that would later assure him a living. He entered the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts to study interior architecture and design. In the evenings he satisfied his yearning for the fine arts by studying at Cooper Union and the Art Students League. His third year in New York he won a three year scholarship to study in Paris. The three years in Paris were largely a repetition of the New York experience, so for as routine was concerned--days spent in studying interior architecture and designs, evenings spent with artists and in the study of fine arts. Hazzard returned from Paris to New York where he became associated with famous art director and designer, Joseph Urban. Among other things at that time Urban was art director for the Cosmopolitan motion picture company. Hazzard designed medieval lots for Martin Davies pictures and later become art director at the old Biograph lot, where he designed sets for the Richard Barthelmess pictures. Then he went into freelance business for himself. By the time the motion picture industry decided to move from New York to California, Hazzard had decided that he had enough of the movies. The nervous tension of doing artistic work by schedule, as well as the general hubbub of the movie business, no longer appealed to him. He stayed on in New York as a sculptor and interior architect and designer. Many of his sculptured pieces found their way into museums and into the homes of the wealthy. And all the time, in the increasing burden of the strain of living at the New York pace, Hazzard dreamed of dropping the lucrative design and sculpture activities, and coming west to paint Indians; but always he put off the decision and departure. The departure was taken out of his hands. His health broke down under the strain of living and working in New York. His doctor ordered him west. For some months he recuperated in a cabin owned by himself and his father above Cooke City, then he came down to Billings to do what he always had wanted to do -- paint Indians. In 1956, Harry submitted his model for the C.M. Russell statue that was to be placed in the Rotunda of our Nation's Capitol He did not win this commission, but many felt that his likeness of "Charlie" was the one that should have been chosen. Harry had many friends back New York way and he was very pleased that the following squib appeared in Walter Winchell's column of January 3, 1966: "...H.M. Hazzard, one of America's most honored sculptors (The American Indian), is mending at Roosevelt Hosp..." After a long illness, Harry Hazzard died December 1, 1966.
View high resolution images of works by Harry Hazzard when available.