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Stangle, Jack Warren (1927-1980) -- Northwest artist

HistoryLink.org Essay 7687 : Printer-Friendly Format

Betty (Batchelor) Miles of Samish Island contributed this piece on Jack W. Stangle, who was a celebrated artist in Seattle from 1953 to his death in 1980. He was a member of the Northwest School and he garnered accolades for his bold oil painting as well as his ethereal tempuras and collages. He was the youngest artist to receive the Seattle Art Museum's annual award for artists under 40. Betty Miles was Stangle's companion for 10 years and a witness to many of his critical triumphs.

Jack Stangle

Jack Stangle was an artistic wunderkind from his graduation from Ballard High School, where he studied under respected teacher Orre Noble, to his premature death at 52. He was given a one-man show by gallery owner Zoë Dusanne when he was only 25 in 1953.

His work was lauded in The Seattle Times as "mature beyond his years." Dr. Richard Fuller of the Seattle Art Museum arranged for a four-man show at the museum with Jack Stangle, Richard Gilkey, Ward Corley, and William Ivey. In a review of the show John Voorhees stated, "At the head of the Northwest School of Painting -- if one takes this term to mean those artists who are seriously engaged in interpreting in color and mood the atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest -- is artist Jack Stangle, one of the more successful of the area's young painters. Stangle as well as Richard Gilkey and Ward Corley seem likely candidates to carry on the traditions of these older painters." In 1955, at 28, he went to Spain to paint. His work garnered such praise that he returned in 1957 to complete his Spanish series capturing light and shadow among the rooftops.

From 1957 to 1963, Stangle, who often omitted the "e" from his last name, maintained a studio in the Howard Building in Pioneer Square. It was a popular gathering place for artists and collectors alike, where a lot of alcohol was consumed. He generally required a fifth of alcohol for admittance and no one ever refused.

Artist Bill Cumming writes of the cafe next door where "we all ate. As late as the 1960s it was the Pittsburgh and Jack Stangl and I used to eat cheaply there." Cumming described the studio as follows: "This room was attached to a large photographic studio which would someday house myself and Johnny Davis followed by Dick Gilkey and Ward Corley and finally by Jack Stangl."

Anne G. Todd, Seattle Times art reviewer, wrote "long before the rejuvenation of Pioneer Plaza became a cause, Stangle had his painting studio in the Howard Building on First Avenue."

In 1963, Stangle took his paints to Japan, returning in 1966 to have a show at the Dick White Gallery at 311 Occidental. This show was so successful that it sold out all 38 paintings in three hours. Seattle Art Museum bought one of the strongest of the paintings. Reviewer Ann Faber wrote "no one has ever seen this nest of objects in exactly that way and it never again can be painted in that way." All of Stangle's works were startlingly original and never derivative. She continues: "the stampede among buyers indicates a hunger for romantic painting and painting which praises the objects of daily use."

At the peak of his success, Blanche Whittaker and Ethel Kennedy arranged for him to have a show in New York at the Willard Gallery run by Marion Johnson. Jean Batie, art reviewer, wrote of the unprecedented -- for a living artist -- retrospective exhibition mounted by the Seattle Art Museum in June 1968. "Jack Stangl's retrospective exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum Pavilion shows the evolution of a consistent and mature talent of sizable proportions" and "these are realistic paintings which have been subjected to the order and purity of a strongly poetic vision."

However as reviewer Regina Hackett wrote, "Stangl was famous in the fifties as much as for his outrageous behavior and debauches as for his work." He was adept in most media and she continued, "He manages in these collages to achieve the airy distance in layers effect characteristic of the Japanese art he admired. In the best of these collages luminous twists of rice paper appear to fall through space like ticker tape or leaves. Here Stangl shows a serenity that seems to have eluded him in his personal life." When he died in 1980 at 52, he was awarded a one-half page tribute in The Seattle Times by Delores Tarzan and a memorial exhibit at the Foster-White gallery.

His work was owned by, among others, Senator Warren Magnuson, Federal Judge William Dwyer, and mountaineer Jim Whitaker.

Dr. Fuller wrote in 1968, "Jack Stangl has always been a realist, painting landscapes, cityscapes, blown leaves, and still life, usually in muted tones, His early work in oil was free and impressionistic. In Japan he developed an individual, meticulous atmosphere style in tempura, giving the impression that the objects are suspended in air." and "In all of his works Stangl has attained an individual quality."

As Delores Tarzan wrote "he is a genuine part of Seattle's art history."

His works of the later years, which he would refuse to sell, were donated to area hospitals, Ballard High School, and the Cornish School.

Betty (Batchelor) Miles of Samish Island was Jack W. Stangle's companion for 10 years and a witness to many of his critical triumphs.

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Jack Stangle (1927-1980), 1955
Courtesy Betty Miles

Marsh (ca. 1958) by Jack Stangle
Courtesy Pacific Galleries

Jack Stangle (1927-1980) and Betty Miles, 1966
Courtesy Betty Miles

Occidental Street, (ca. 1953) by Jack Stangle
Courtesy Seattle Art Museum

Jack Stangle (L) and Betty Miles (R), n.d.
Courtesy Betty Miles

Jack Stangle (1927-1980) in his studio, 1957
Courtesy Betty Miles

Jack Stangle (1927-1980), n.d.
Photo by Earl Fields, Courtesy Betty Miles and the Seattle Art Museum

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