Lesser known work of a late Eugene Artist
By Bob Keefer The Register-Guard
Published: January 3, 2008
The late Jan Zach is best known around Eugene as a sculptor.
The former University of Oregon art professor created the
statue Prometheus, which sits outside the Jordan Schnitzer
Museum of Art.
He also was the driving force behind the Oregon
International Sculpture Symposium, which attracted big-name sculptors to come to Eugene in the summer of 1974
and create work that remains on display today, from the
space-alien figures by Hugh Townley that cavort near the
Willamette River in Alton Baker Park to Big Red, Bruce Beasley’s enormous steel
dumbbell that sits by the entrance to the Washington Street Bridge downtown.
Zach, whose life was as colorful as his name, worked in
other mediums besides heroic steel and wood. He was a
painter with a good eye for color and landscape and a
strong sense of design.
Working with his widow, the Karin Clarke Gallery has
put together its second show of Zach’s work, much of
which has been stored for years in an unheated barn in
rural Lane County.
Among the discoveries from the barn are drawings,
pastels, watercolors, wood block prints and oil paintings
on canvas. Some of the work was created while Zach lived in Brazil as a young man.
The show included work made as early as 1928 and as late as 1979. Most has never
before been shown in public.
Reclining Figure, Hotel Cataquases, Brazil
Zach was born in Czechoslovakia in
During the 1930s, he trained in Prague
to become a painter and decorator. He
came to New York in 1938 to work on
the Czech pavilion for the World’s Fair,
and never returned to his homeland,
kept out by the invasion of the Nazis in
1939 and the Communist takeover in
He lived in Rio and the countryside of
Brazil and in Victoria, B.C., eventually settling in Eugene in 1958 when the U of O
hired him as a sculpture professor. He died in 1986.
Installation Work, “Can-Can”, Meyer and Frank Co.
Valley River, Eugene, Oregon 1969
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