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 Beasleys enormous steel dumbbell that sits by the entrance to the Washington Street Bridge downtown.


jan_zach.jpg         “Venus” 1952

 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 Zachs 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.


escultura-de-jan-zach-hotel.jpg   Reclining Figure, Hotel Cataquases, Brazil

Zach was born in Czechoslovakia in 1914.

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 Worlds Fair, and never returned to his homeland, kept out by the invasion of the Nazis in 1939 and the Communist takeover in 1948.

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.


zach-meyer-and-frank.jpgInstallation Work, “Can-Can”, Meyer and Frank Co.

Valley River, Eugene, Oregon 1969



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