YONKERS, N.Y. -- You've no doubt passed by the murals of Richard Haas countless times -- "Gateway to the Waterfront" at the Warburton/Main Street access is pretty much front and center in town - but how much do you know about the man behind it?
The internationally renowned Haas, a longtime Yonkers resident, began painting murals in the '70s after a productive career as a printmaker and abstract painter.His interior and exterior murals in both private and public spaces can be found all over the world.
While called a trompe-l’oeil architectural muralist, it is not necessarily a descriptive he likes to use about himself. “Tricking of the eye,” explained Haas, “Is the technical definition [of trompe-l’oeil], and that aspect has always been secondary to my painting. What’s important to me is how you alter the environment in total space and make it a part of the illusion of space—of what it might be rather that the reality of what it is.”
Gateway to the Waterfront, for those not familiar with it, takes the façades of plain buildings and turns them into three-dimensional-appearing illusions of the continuation of the space.
Haas has been involved in Yonkers for decades, particularly with the redevelopment of downtown, and has lived in the city for the past 35 years. His 1997 “Gateway” depicts the city’s history and was recently proposed to be designated as a landmark. “I’ve lost a humongous number of murals,” admits the artist. “There are certain mandates in terms of my murals in different cities, but, this is the first ‘landmark’ mural.”
The 79-year-old award-winning artist remains as active as ever. He recently finished 14 murals for a project outside Chicago and conducted the interview for this article while drawing for a mural he hopes to do in Philadelphia this summer.
Meanwhile, exhibits of his work are currently being shown at the National Academy of Design in Manhattan and in museums in Minnesota and Florida among others.
He was recently named one of 50 local winners of ArtsWestchester's “50 for 50” initiative to recognize working artists in the community. Click here for previous Daily Voice story.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.