Felix Pasilis Artist

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Felix Pasilis Biography

Felix PasilisPlace of birth Batavia, Illinois — August 1922. As a young man, he attended West Aurora High school in Aurora, Illinois. In 1940, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, becoming a weather forecaster and was stationed in the Arctic for two years, attaining the rank of Master Sergeant upon discharge after the war in 1945. He worked the Weather Bureau in Washington, D. C. for 6 months, then entered American University in Washington and studied drawing, painting, and composition under William Calfee from 1946 to 1948, after which he studied with Hans Hofmann from 1948 to May, 1950. In December, 1951, he and fellow artists organized the famous “813 Broadway” show (Endnote 1), while at the same time showing in the “Expansionist” show which attracted considerable attention. With a nucleus composed of the same fellow artists as those participating in the “813 Broadway” show, he helped to establish the well-known Hansa Gallery.

The following is a list of shows in which Mr. Pasilis’s work has been included (*) or featured (**):

* Tanager Gallery -- first show, 1952
* Hansa Gallery – Feb. 1953
** Hansa Gallery – Dec. 1953
** Urban Gallery Nov. 1954
** Bernard Ganymede Gallery - Feb. 1956
* Stable Gallery -- 21 Americans, 1955
* Carnegie International – 1955, 1958, & 1961
* American University – Jan. -- Feb. 1956
** Tibor De Hagy -- Jan. 1957
* Time & Life Bldg. -“Executive View” 1957
* HCE Gallery – Provincetown – 1957-1960
* Landau Gallery -- Los Angeles, 1957
** Zabriskie Gallery -- Nov. - Dec. 1957; 1961
* Jewish Museum - “Artists of the NY School” – 1957
* Stable Gallery – Annuals, 1952 - 1958
* Ellison Gallery – Fort Worth, TX, 1959 - 1960
* Richard Brown Baker Collection – March 1959
* Rhode Island School of Design, 1959
** Marino Art Gallery, 1959
* Nonogon Gallery, 1959
* New Art Gallery, 1959
* Great Jones Gallery, 1960
* East Hampton Gallery, 1961
* Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1961
* Yale University Gallery, 1961
** RJ Gallery – Oct. – Dec. 1961

Felix Pasilis was also distinguished by the Art News for having one of the top ten best art shows in New York in 1956. His work is included in over 50 private collections and in the permanent collections of MIT, Fashion Institute of Technology, Gallery Gertrude Stein, and the Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C.

Post NYC to Present

The Missing Years
In the mid 1960s, Felix left the New York City art scene for a visiting artists’ position at a large university in the Pacific Northwest. The trip proved to be the first of many the artist would take with his family over the next few decades, each time traveling thousands of miles before settling down for several years at a time in Oregon, California, and Mexico. With three children to support, Felix and his second wife, Sally, eventually settled in Pacifica, California, where both worked as successful street artists in San Francisco, specializing in gold and silver jewelry.

Go to Gallery
Gradually, however, Felix began painting in the privacy of his backyard in Pacifica, where his subject matter shifted from still-lifes to the surrounding California coastal mountains that towered above the tiny seaside town. Patio plants swirl skyward in a blaze of color while trees and mountains sizzle with the energy of the frustrated artist breaking free of his working- man chains.

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When the children had all grown and left home for work or college, Felix decided to fly the coop too. Moving to an old colonial city in central Mexico, Felix continued painting landscapes in brilliant colors but with a lighter brush stroke and more delicate application of pigment. In true abstract expressionist style, the subject matter in works from this era shimmer and flow across the canvas like memories recalled with teary eyes.

Go to Gallery
In 2001, Felix and Sally returned to the United States to live with their youngest daughter in Tucson, Arizona. A reviewer of Pasilis’ earlier work in New York City once commented, “Over and over again he offers arrangements of a few simple objects – the white coffeepot, the black pitcher, the green cup, the orange and the lemon – and never fails in making new and pleasant discoveries,” and this faithful, if not somewhat obsessed, interest in a single subject reappears in these latter works. In attempting to explain what might motivate a man to paint a dozen or more pictures of a single tree (mesquite, mesquite 2), vegetable garden (cucumber patch, cucumber patch in summer), or even telephone pole (untitled series), his wife Sally theorized that, “Felix paints to resolve geometric problems.” The artist, however, offered a more practical explanation: “It’s not as easy as it once was for me to get around. I guess I’m just lazy, but moving my chair about the garden seems a lot easier than moving about the continent.”

End Notes:

A quick search on the Internet on 8/25/05 revealed two sources of information on the 813 Broadway show:

1. In December 1951, “Six unknown artists all quite young held a joint exhibition of their works in a loft studio at 813 Broadway. The artists were Lester Johnson, Wolf Kahn, John Grillo, Felix Pasilis, Jan Muller and Miles Forst. “813 Broadway,” as this joint cooperation venture was called on a woodcut announcement made by Wolf Kahn, was visited by about 300 artists and two art critics, Thomas B. Hess of Art News and Paul Brach of the Arts Digest. The show led to the founding of the best of the downtown cooperative galleries, the Hansa Gallery. 813 Broadway announced a new interest in figurative painting by a group which had drunk deep at the Pirean springs of abstract expressionism. -- adapted from the Art Student League's News, December 1961

2. “In a sense the 813 Broadway exhibition contained the rudiments of the Hansa Gallery, which was to form on East Twelfth Street and which opened in the autumn of 1952. With Jan [Muller], such artists as Jean Follett, Barbara Forst, Miles Forst, Wolf Kahn, Allan Kaprow, Felix Pasilis and Richard Sankiewicz were among the founders.” (In Dody Muller's account of her husband, Jan's life prefacing the catalogue on Jan Muller, prepared by the Guggenheim Museum for the January, February 1962 exhibition of his works)


"Taking a composer's satisfaction and a painter's delight in the organizing of forms out of sumptuous color, Felix Pasilis transforms the objects of his still-lifes into pictorial objects living in their own space and substance." -- Art Digest (1954)