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 Jari Havlena  (1921 - 2012)

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Lived/Active: California/Missouri/North Dakota / Austria      Known for: painting, teaching, stained glass

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Jari  Havlena
An example of work by Jari Havlena
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following published references to Jari Havlena were submitted by Scott Wilder, Art collector and researcher from Olathe, Kansas.

Torrance Press - August 4,1960
College adds Woman to Teaching Staff
As part of the expansion in the Harbor College are department, Miss Jari Havlena,  new art instructor, comes to the college after having taught at the Chicago Art Institute, at Saint Teresa College in Kansas City, Mo., and at nearby San Pedro, Gardena, and Redondo Beach  Adult Schools. Miss Havlena completed her early studies in Washington College of Music and Abbot Fine Arts School of Washington, D.C., and later graduated with honors in the fields of painting and art education from De Paul University and the Chicago Art Institute with BFA, BAE and MFA degrees.

Miss Havlena has also worked in the Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, Austria. There she studied stained glass
and enameling techniques. She was later commissioned to complete large mosaic on the exterior of a building in Vienna for architect Koller-Buchweiser. In addition, she studied painting with Oscar Kokoschka at the International Summer Academy of Salzburg, Austria, and later studied at the workshop of Stanley Hayter, engraver, in Paris, France.

She has had professional experience as an artist-draftsman for the United States Government, has been assistant director of education for the Nelson Gallery in Kansas City, Mo., Instructor of history of art, painting and ceramics in the College of Saint Teresa in Kansas City, and taught in educational programs in Kansas City, Oakland, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, San Pedro, Gardena, and the Paul Rivas Gallery of Los Angeles.

Miss Havlena has exhibited extensively In both group and one-man showings in Washington, D.C.,
Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland, Menlo Park, Los Angeles and vicinity. Her work is represented in many private art collections. Recently, one of her paintings was purchased for display in the Lytton Savings Bank on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

Miss Havlena has a studio in Manhattan Beach. Her paintings are handled by the Paul Rivas Gallery in
Los Angeles. Courses which she is scheduled to teach at Los Angeles Harbor College during the fall semester include survey of art history, beginning drawing and painting, beginning oil painting, crafts workshop, ceramics and free-hand drawing.

Artist Jari Havlena. Part I
by Bev Morse - Easy Reader News
Published October 14, 2004
Havlena is tired. She’s tired of the fight, the struggle, the absurdity; of stupidity; selfishness; waste by want and wantonness defacing, and depleting mother Earth, a celestial body she finds holy. She’s fought barriers, great and small, her sex, art, expression, man-made obstacles in the way of life, of laughter, liberty, health and happiness. And progress.
A child of privilege, somewhere Europe, she rejects a youth re-encounter. “I don’t want to talk about it. I am from nowhere,” she says.

Finding bits of life torn asunder, early on, she began rebuilding content as she saw it, and her own, to bear witness, the saving, cradling, nurturing, renewing. Reconstructing, eager to see, quick, small hands gathering every object de possible art - a square nail, back-breaker weeder, charred log - someone’s dream; a rusted door knocker to someone else’s make-believe; target-practice silhouettes shot through their resistance to the viewer; a staring eyeball assemblage, unconditional, noncommittal - watching us see it. And see it, we do. And have.

For seven decades or more. Maybe eight. Jari Havlena from Somewhere, maybe Europe, is 83 this year, she reborning her world with her own hands, her life, her art, her home and studios here in Redondo Beach, a woman reconstruct, beginning at the age of three.

 Born in 1921, Havlena began drawing in 1924. Warsaw? Prague? Vienna? The city of music and dreams? “… lovely Vienna, that used to be… ” ?

“ I am from nowhere,” she says. “It doesn’t matter.” Jari’s work is her life; her life, her work. And her past is there for all to see. Talk? No. Work? Yes, she has. It is what she is. And does. She crept to it, barely out of the crib, crawling, a child’s chubby fist holding tight to anything that could make a mark. No talking of this. She was too young. This is what? What is this? Draw, Jari, draw! Draw Jari.

But wait. There’s more. 80 years more. And now she’s tired. Tired of rebuilding, righting, re-righting, and fighting. Tired of governments of the people, by the people, for themselves; trampling out the vineyards, responsibility black-booted away. She’s weary of gathering the scarred and discarded; the leftovers, the used and abused. And, since the age of three, using whatever she could to begin to tell her story, Jari Havlena, has turned a corner, and is painting up a planetary storm with what time and energy she has left to prepare what is next, “Out there.”

 “I am arranging my future, my leaving this, this earth, this place, you see. What do you think this is,” she asks excitedly, her new color paintings so primary pure and clean, unblemished, endlessly geometric, infinite. They are startlingly flattened and simple, complex, nearly sacrificial, wet as new birth on its easel amidst the cluster of her studio, toward the rear of her property, her compound. Havlena has rebuilt her home, this rambling 1880s barn and buildings, once condemned. It, too, is her art, and shelters her art, this reconstruct, this re-usefulness of others’ care-less-ness.

Gesturing upwards towards the darkening ceiling of the great room, she says, “I bought this in 1960, a couple of years before Enor Muren, the jazz pianist, and my best friend, and I opened the art gallery in Hermosa, on the corner of Pier and Hermosa Avenue.

“See, I made these windows, these little square panes of glass.” Of the brickwork outside, “I laid it,” a charming, sculpted meandering dry stream, a child’s delight of paths ebbing and flowing throughout the back yard. One can barely keep from skipping along it.

From the rough-hewn, shaved-wood strip ‘wallpaper’ wrapping the interior kitchen of one of the home’s two to the flow inside and out this well-loved, lived and no-nonsense yet art-i-fact-rich rambling home, with sunlight bounding from art to art, it all speaks of Jari. In the living room with the grand piano, Jari’s and others works reflect tiny bits of sunlight peeping playfully through the old redwood shingles and high beamed ceiling at the north, peaked end.

All is textured, from her graffiti on the walls, “Most people lead live lives of desperation,” to book shelves laden with tomes, antiques, toy cars. Quietly sleeping strings of unlit Christmas lights loop about the whole awaiting a merry new season.

“When of use, I will be used,” all seem to declare.

Henry Seldis of the Los Angeles Times, wrote that Havlena’s “compositions are structural geometric abstractions, textured and with vivid or subdued color… In style, her work is highly organized and technical skill is obvious… rich compositions of multiple colors… texture of great variation.”

Havlena studied stained glass and enamel on copper at Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, painting with Oscar Kokoschka at the International School of Painting in Salzburg, architectural drafting in Chicago, and engraving and etching, printmaking, with Stanley Hayter, in the Ranson Atelier, Paris. Until just recently, she kept studios in Vienna, Prague and Paris, as well as Redondo Beach. This woman also studied classical piano at the Conservatory of Music in Washington DC. “Since it was not very possible to pursue two interests with equal intensity, I chose painting as my soul media, with drafting as a minor,” being graduated with a BFA and MFA from the Chicago Art Institute, receiving the esteemed Vanderbilt Painting Award.

Jari Havlena, Part II
by Bev Morse - Easy Reader News
Published October 14, 2004
 Before moving West and opening her studio here, “in order to eat,” Havlena became a professor of painting in history department at a woman’s private university in Kansas [Saint Teresa College], became assistant curator of education at the William Rockwell Nelson Museum of Art in Kansas City, and began exhibiting. Her works have been shown in numerous one-woman shows and several retrospectives, her assemblage works on war and man-caused forest fires have hung in museums throughout America. Receiving a prestigious painting award from the de Young Museum of Art in San Francisco, she then moved to Europe, painting and exploring the art of photography.

Upon her return to the United States in the 1960s, she moved to Manhattan Beach with Enor, working briefly at Metlox Ceramics and extensively exhibiting and lecturing on contemporary painting, sculpture and architecture throughout the region. She also opened her first studio in Manhattan Beach at that time, and then a second in 1963, the House of Fine Arts on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach, and finally, her self-built studio in Redondo Beach.

 While her art has been compared to, and an older, favorite oil entitled “Topanga,” reminiscent of Feininger, hangs in her living room, she resists the term ‘period.’ “I have no period, no media! When curators call for more work ‘of that period,’ I would tell them – ‘I have no period! I am on to the next work!’”

She continued, “I have no ‘one’ theme – still life, landscape or people. I am enamored of change – change, you see - challenged by change, with experimentation and new things, more Max Ernst and Picasso.

“My pre-2004 works, painting, collage, assemblage, is a statement in regard to man’s continuous destruction of the planet Earth. Can you imagine! The images themselves are self-explanatory in expressing thoughts that emerge from our unconscious. They are silent, alone, in presenting both the ‘known” and the “unknown” state of the images presented. They evoke differing emotions that absorb the sense.”

Another respected review acclaims, “The introspection implied by the show is poetically realized in the innovative mixed media paintings and collage … combining calligraphy, poetry, etc… in tautly structured geometric formats… Havlena creates evocative compositions that suggest metaphysical realms. The formal beauty of Havlena’s work is enhanced by her glowing, gem-like colors.” (Artspeak, New York, June 1990.)
 Havlena’s earlier influence of Mondrian, simplified cubistic planes with compositional space, and Klee, imagery and color, are again arising, wet and newly birthed, in the middle easel of studio jumble past. Compleat within its nest of rags and brushes, cans and yellowing exhibition announcements, from Kansas City to Alaska, Jari’s brave new world, now spreading throughout this atelier, bursts with boundless constraint, structure and exuberant energy contradicting its discipline, the whole leaping off walls with this Jari’s new journey into the unknown.

As we enter this series of rooms, her blue eyes widening, face shining, she says, “You see? You see? I am preparing my returning, to the sun and the moon, to the skies and planets, once all of ours, and I am showing you first!” Jari’s journey is of outer space, planetary space.

“It’s really quite simple,” she says. “Infinity is unknown, and it’s where I’m going, where we’re all going. It’s all an unknown, isn’t it? My new paintings are finding me my place.”

Increasingly eager to move on, impatient with her past now, she cherishes the works of it. They are her children – her ART – her LIFE – and she cannot bear to leave them totally behind, to abandon them, to sell them unknowing to unknown strangers. “Take this!” she demands. “You must have this!” she pushes at her interviewer. “Do you like this? You must have it!”

She wants to know where they will go, these, her babies, her paintings, sculptures, collages, assemblage, her paintings, writings, journals, collections, pencil sketches, pen and inks; her words, postcards; her creations – her rusted award-winning “America” assemblage in a front bedroom - a pitchfork, anvil, burro’s bit, a representative of the soul and back-breaking physicality of the new land, the new frontier, the new settlers, much as she, Havlena, took on her own life, with her own hands, re-sculpting her being, and all their blood, sweat and tearing, searing of self upon the plains and prairies, the stark deserts of this new honeyed land. Theirs, and her, these simple tools the settling of it. And maybe of Havlena’s unspoken childhood memories. War? Words, the sights and sounds of childhood, away from here, somewhere so long ago. “No, I don’t want to talk about it.”

Awards the world-over abound, bulge out scrapbooks, piled and stuffed, along with her art, her books, her music, a life lived, hurt, laughed, loved; drawn, painted, welded, scorched, smoothed, hammered, glued, nailed, sketched and penned, gentled into place; her creations, so many the leftovers of others lives. This artist, this woman, who’s lived nearly a century around the globe, is here where her heart/h is where nothing is sacred, and all is holy - the atelier of Parises past, a place to hang, all art, all truth. All tired now. Tired, but excited.

Havlena wants out now, out into the next time, the next place. And she has put away her childhood things – her tools of resistance, underground, overground, land to land. And, in so recognizing, has begun to paint her future.

She scribbled long ago on a studio wall now housing her new planetary pieces, “Je suis plus heureuse dans la solitude que dans le monde.” - What I love most in the world is my solitude, my being.” She is also a gluttonous world traveler, fancy car fancier, people charmer, southwestern culture and book lover – and funny, wry and dry. Now living with her little Sheltie, Enor’s dog, she lives a very eclectic and self-sufficient life. As grounded and down-to-earth as she is seeking a higher plane, Jari has no “shelf” esteem.

“Because I’ve been so long disturbed by our planet’s ceaseless destruction of its sea, air, forest, animal, wilderness and forever warring and religious attacking of one another, overpopulation and crime I am now wanting to escape into other dimensions – quiet, silence – and I think I have arrived on a direction ever so great! It is indescribable!,” she enthuses.

It has been said that life imitates art. The life of this artist is being driven 80 mph in a variety of racey cars hell bent along similar avenues for 80 years by an unquenchable thirst for both, the planet Earth, and all life upon it. From somewhere to elsewhere.

Surrounded by colleagues, friends and collectors; interests and causes; it is hard to believe that this petite, strikingly handsome, vital woman is 83. And it is wonder-full.


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