Harold Balazs of Mead, Wash., is best known for his public works of art in communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Balazs crafts and sculpts in multimedia. His range of materials includes wood, metal, concrete, enamel and wrought iron. His newest public work, a collaborative project in Spokane’s Riverfront Park, is an interactive fountain of stainless steel and basalt, 30 feet in diameter and 16 feet tall.
Balazs was born in 1928 in Westlake, Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s of arts degree in 1951 from Washington State University. He has worked as a self-employed artist since. He served three terms on the Washington State Arts Commission.
Balazs is an artistic pioneer who juxtaposes disparate ideas in an endless variety of forms. He merges nebulous shapes with geometric, often on scrap materials such as old washing machine lids.
The architectural community embraced his work, which led Balazs to create abstract altars, cement and brick planters and carved wooden doors. The American Institute of Architects awarded Balazs a gold medal in architectural crafts in 1967. He received a Washington state Governor’s Award in the Arts in 1988 and a lifetime achievement award from the Enamelist Society. In 2001, Balazs was profiled in the Living Treasures Project, a video series that documents the Northwest’s important and influential craftsmen and artists that ran on public television.
Balazs is known for his vibrant enamel work. He created a 30-foot enamel mural of rhododendrons for Seattle’s Kingdome stadium. The mural was moved to the King County Administration building after the Kingdome was demolished.
Balazs describes his life’s work with these words: “I make stuff because it’s better than not making stuff.”