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 William Hugh Howe  (1928 - 2009)

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Lived/Active: Kansas/California      Known for: Butterfly paintings, illustrations and writing

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William Hugh Howe (1928 – 2009) was born on June 18, 1928, in Stockton, California, the son of Edwin and Eugenia Howe. He attended the West Coast Institute of Arts and Crafts in Berkeley, California, and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Ottawa University in 1951. He later attended the Kansas City Art Institute. Many of the reference specimens used for paintings were collected during more than 83 trips to Mexico.

Howe was known as the “Butterfly Man.” He was an internationally recognized expert on butterflies and moths and illustrated or contributed as a coordinating editor for such publications as Doubleday’s The Butterflies of North America; in 1975, Reader’s Digest’s “North American Wildlife,” in 1982; and the first authoritative volume on Mexico’s species of butterflies, Mariposas de Mexico, published in 1984.

He was the writer and illustrator of the book, Our Butterflies and Moths, published in 1963, which kicked off his career. He was commissioned to create butterfly illustrations for Heritage Cards and the Franklin Mint.

Howe’s paintings hang in museums, universities, public offices and private collections in the United States, Canada and Mexico. One exhibit in 1994 contained 40 paintings displaying four distinct styles of art (pointillism, enlarged imagery, traditional and surrealism) in Dyche Hall at Kansas University. He completed seven murals for the Presidential Palace in Tamazunchale, San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

In 1984, the Kansas Arts Commission funded a state tour of Mr. Howe’s paintings titled “Butterflies of Kansas.” He was honored as Kansas Artist of the Year in 1987 by Gov. Mike Hayden. In 1993, KTWU channel 11 filmed a piece on Mr. Howe shown on Sunflower Journeys featuring “The Ottawa Butterfly Man” and his work.

A lifelong artist, he moved to Ottawa, Kansas, where he spent the remainder of his life.
West Coast Institute of Arts & Crafts, Berkeley, Ca
Ottowa University – BA in Biology (1951)
Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO
Kansas Artist of the Year (1987)
Doubleday’s The Butterflies of North America, 1975
Reader’s Digest’s "North American Wildlife” 1982
Mariposas de Mexico, 1984
Our Butterflies and Moths, 1963

The Kansas City Star
The Denver Post
New Orleans Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Washington Post

Museums & Institutions
Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
Crambrook Institute

Written and submitted by Brady Dreasher, Gallery Curator

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William Howe was born on June 18, 1928 in Stockton, California.  He moved with his family to Kansas in 1941 when his father, an entomologist, took a teaching position at the University of Kansas. 

Howe received a BA in Biology from Ottawa University in 1951, and then attended the Kansas City Art Institute.  He worked as a commercial artist with Western Auto Supply Co. in Kansas City until 1954, then for the Merchandise Mart, the Corps of Engineers, and for an architectural firm.

He illustrated Our Butterflies and Moths (North Kansas City: True Color Pub., 1963), and illustrated and edited The Butterflies of North America, published by Doubleday in 1975 and still considered to be the premier illustrated work on butterflies of this continent. He also illustrated the butterfly section of other books. In 1988, he donated his collection of more than 10,000 butterflies to the Los Angeles County Museum.

He lived in Ottawa from 1941.

Smithsonian Institution; Los Angeles County Museum; Carnegie Museum; Philbrook Art Center; Witte Museum; Heard Natural Science Museum, McKinney, TX, 2005.

Awards: Kansas Artist of the Year, 1987.

Illinois State Art Museum; Smithsonian Institution;
American Museum of Natural History; Carnegie Museum; Kansas State Historical
Society; mural at Ottawa Middle School.
Susan Craig, "Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945)"
Wichita Art Museum’s Library Artists’ Files.;, accessed Nov. 10, 2008; Wichita Eagle Beacon (Jan. 18, 1981); Kansas! (1st issue, 1981).

This and over 1,750 other biographies can be found in Biographical Dictionary of Kansas Artists (active before 1945) compiled by Susan V. Craig, Art & Architecture Librarian at University of Kansas.

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