Harold Wahl was born in Melrose, Minnesota on Aug. 15, 1898 and died April 27, 1980. He was the son of Joseph and Anna Wahl, local department store owners. He spent his early years in Bellingham, Washington. Harold enjoyed drawing in his childhood and fondly remembered doing the art work for Whatcom High School’s yearbook, Kulshan. After high school he attended the Chicago Academy of fine Arts.
His first job as an artist was for the McClatchy newspapers in Sacramento California doing cartoons during the Harding era. His pen sketched issues on the Alien Exclusion Act, Prohibition and Irish troubles.
After five years with the newspapers, Harold was called home to Bellingham to help his father with Wahl’s Department store during the depression. During this time Mr. Wahl moonlighted as a magazine artist, drawing cartoons for Liberty, Maciean’s in Canada and the Rotarian.
World War II began and Harold was sent to Amchitka Island in the Aleutian Islands. He continued to paint during his tour there.
His work evolved from early near photographic images to becoming purely abstract. His main focus concerned the dynamic force of nature as revealed in mountains and rocks, deserts and swamps, trees and mosses and even chlorophyll. Black was his favorite color, borrowing from his days in the newspaper business.
By 1976 he had turned out some 600 works and had received awards from the Seattle Art Museum and the Frye Art Museum. His explanation of his work was that he threw paint and had a good time.
Information provided by Judy Romaneschi, the artist's niece, who writes: I remember him showcasing his paintings and telling me that this painting could be whatever I saw in it. He was reluctant to name it for me. I remember him fondly as a wonderfully creative spirit.