Henry Frederick Wentz
Oregon: Dalles, 1876
- Occupation or Type
Harry Wentz was a student of the Sketch Club and the Oregon Art Students League where he studied under DuMond. He went to New York to continue his art education and then attended the Lyme School in Lyme, Connecticut. When he returned to Portland he taught art and manual training at Washington High School before joining the staff at Portland’s Museum Art School from 1910 to 1941. He gave hundreds of students the benefit of his great talent as artist and teacher. Wentz was a man much beloved by his students and fellow artists and his impact went beyond the Museum, the School, and Oregon. Pietro Belluschi, architect of the Portland Art Museum, credited the influence of Wentz on his work: "a living example of the spirit to communicate not through words alone but through the purity of one's convictions. His greatness rests on the uncompromising integrity of his whole life, the humanity of his responses, on his intolerance of anything superficial, and his ability to detect instantly fraud or insincerity in people or their works." Wentz felt that teaching was as much a creative art as painting.
His paintings had a lively charm with brilliant, harmonious colors. He painted the ceiling of the smoking room in the Pittock Mansion, Portland, in an intricate design with glowing color. Wentz produced mountain, coast, and farm scenes, some with figures. His watercolors showed great attention to detail, light, and composition. Harry Wentz and Floyd Wilson had the distinction of being two Oregon painters who exhibited in both the Fine Arts Section and the Oregon Room at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco (1915).
The Wentz house at Neahkahnie, on the coast, was a haven for artists. Arthur and Albert Runquist lived and worked there for many of their productive years. This house by well-known architect A.E. Doyle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1958, Wentz was presented with a special award from the Portland Arts Commission for distinguished service to the community. The Museum Art School named an exhibition gallery in his honor. It was said that Harry Wentz was the most important influence on Portland artists during the first half of the 20th century.
Artist biography reproduced with permission from the authors, Oregon Painters: the First Hundred Years (1859-1959), Ginny Allen and Jody Klevit.
- Related People
teacher of: Charles Heaney (American, 1897-1981)