Melvin Dennis Howard (1942 - 2008) was a Spokane Valley, Washington artist whose original oil paintings of contemporary surrealism are featured prominently on this web site, as well as at the end of each of the 20 chapters in the book entitled The Advice of a Headhunter by Don Hite. Mel's personal story is not a new one. He was forced to examine his fears, anxieties, and beliefs while serving time in San Quentin Prison for bank robbery. There he became a prolific student of both art and theology. Following his release from prison, Mel also became an amateur astronomer.
Mel began his art career by painting portraits of other prison inmates in 1965 in order to earn canteen money. He said that other prisoners genuinely enjoyed checking in to see how his works were progressing. Later influenced by the art of Salvador Dali, Mel developed his own unique and provocative style of painting. His art demonstrates tremendous control in technique while examining the limitless universe that he loves to explore. His themes are not simply a confrontation with his personal angst, but with the multitude of ghosts that haunt us all!
In 1979, Mel's mother pleaded with him not to rob another bank, and he was miraculously able to honor that request. Thereafter, and with the help and encouragement of his long-term love, Opal, he turned his efforts toward painting full-time and would work non-stop for up to 48 hours at a time. Regardless of Mel's inner turmoil, he had clearly used his previous time in prison to hone his talents. The motifs in his paintings often deal with the concepts of breaking free of one's limitations, great and expansive journeys, the passage of immense amounts of time, and ultimately the ability to shape one's own future.
There are two galleries of Mel Howard's work listed on this web site.
The slideshow of Gallery Number 1 contains 61 of Mel's better-known oil paintings. These 61 works were photographed using a high-resolution camera so that quality copies of the originals could be made for those interested in owning facsimiles of Mel's paintings. Reasonably priced high-quality art reproductions on canvas (known as giclees) of these 61 paintings, either in 20-inch by 30-inch, or 30-inch by 40-inch formats (suitable for hanging as is, or for framing) may be purchased by contacting:
Mr. Don Bartell, Owner
HipArt Fine Art
2585 Lilly Street
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814
Web Site: HipArt.com
The slideshow of Gallery Number 2 contains an additional 47 of Mel Howard's known finished works, including a painting on a beer stein. Following Mel's death in early 2008, these paintings were gleaned from photographs that Mel had taken of his works over the years, often as he completed them. High resolution photos of these paintings were apparently not obtained prior to these works either being sold, or in a few cases, given to friends or family members. Hence, as the viewer may note, many of the pictures of the paintings in this gallery are somewhat distorted, have been cropped, have a reflection of the camera flash, or do not contain a representation of the entire original work.
It is important to note that many of Mel's 108 known finished works (and his three known unfinished works) deal with the human effort to free oneself from one's present surrounding by quite literally "reaching for the stars." His recorded efforts are very germane to those individuals who wish to enhance their careers and lives by bettering their job search skills. Mel's story and amazing artistic talents can readily serve as an inspiration for all those on the job market who wish to improve both their personal and professional lives against all odds.
Mel passed away peacefully at his home on February 23, 2008, unfortunately just before he could finally see his lifetime work widely distributed with the publication of the book entitled The Advice of a Headhunter by Don Hite (which was released in late August of 2008). Don's comprehensive book provides grayscale versions of some of Mel's best works (all from Gallery Number 1) at the end of each of the 20 chapters of the 594-page text.