August Holland
Great maritime artist from Illinois

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August Holland the Artist

A Long Way to Go

August Holland was born June 23, 1928 in Sublette, Illinois.  Two days later his parents, August and Nellie took him home to Mendota where his four- year-old brother, Delbert, was waiting for him. Mendota has been his home ever since.

Holland’s interest in art began at about the age of six when he found that drawing was more interesting than the three R’s.Young August Holland  An uncle, who painted as a hobby himself, gave August his first paint box which he made himself. The items included were tiny tubes of oil paints called  “tinting tubes”, paint-brushes, linseed oil, and turpentine.  From then on August painted instead of being a spectator.  This uncle guided Holland’s early years as an artist.  At the age of fifteen August’s first published work appeared in Popular Science magazine.

Holland attended Holy Cross Grade School and Mendota High School.  After high school he went to the American Academy of Art in Chicago.  His father died when he was eighteen months old so they couldn’t afford for him to stay in Chicago.  He attended daily by riding the train.

When he finished art school a job was waiting for him at an advertising agency in Mendota.  Spare time was devoted to fine art.  Two years later he was called into the service.  Being an artist, he was in the Regimental Head-quarters Company which was sent to Panama because the Korean war was winding down.  August HollandWhile in Panama he met the executive administrator of the American Embassy and was asked to do the art work for propaganda to the Latin American countries through the state department.  His first one-man show was held at the El Panama Hotel and several months later he had another one-man show at the Jewish League in Panama.  After his tour of duty August returned to Mendota and the advertising agency.

He met and married his wife, Judith in the early 60’s.  They have three children, Lisa, Jeffrey, and August, Jr.

During his early years as an artist 1951-1961 he was in the Ivan Soritch Gallery and the Edgewater Beach Gallery in Chicago.  With a penchant for getting his work into print he began seeking publishers.  Goes Lithographing in Chicago was his first.  They liked his work and commissioned him to do many paintings.  To keep the buyers from thinking they had only one artist August had many pseudonyms from Boise Smith for western art to Sasha Khomoran for Indian art.  Later he added Donald Art and Bernard Publishing from New York.  Early 70’s brought Turner Manufacturing in Chicago into the picture. So the 60’s and 70’s were spent satisfying publishers.  Usually August kept the originals and they went to the Merrill Chase and Marshall Field Galleries in Chicago.  

The Pearl of WisdomThe most popular of his prints was titled “The Pearl of Wisdom” printed by Goes Lithographing.  An excellent example of "Tiki Art", it featured a Maori idol holding a bowl of light and Polynesian masks and themes..  It appeared in furniture stores across the country and the S&H and Gold Bond stamp catalogs which were popular at the time.  Sets of animal prints, sharks (for the movie “Jaws”), and some whimsical cartoon monkeys were made into puzzles by a toy company in Indiana.

Since the 80’s he has been shown in several galleries across the country.  In 1986 August became acquainted with Charles Vickery, renowned maritime artist.  Vickery became his mentor and in 1988 when the advertising agency closed Holland put his full efforts into his art.  Following his mentor’s lead he concentrated mostly on maritime subjects- researching sailing ships, studying models, scrutinizing wave patterns, and traveling to the east and west coasts to study the ocean but continuing to paint in his Mendota studio which is in the middle of corn country.  He became an artist member of the American Society of Maritime Artists in 1992.  

In the 1990's, August Holland continued to receive recognition for his paintings of the great ships and seascapes.  He was admitted into the Illinois Seniors Hall of Fame for his contributions to the arts at an event hosted by Governor Edgar.

Sea to Shinging Sea by August Holland

 "From Sea to Shining Sea", very popular print from the late 1990's

After a long battle with Hodgkin's disease, August Holland died on August 28, l998.

Presently Holland’s work can be found in Kavanaugh Galleries in West Des Moines, Iowa; Wally Findlay Galleries in New York, Palm Beach, and Chicago; Omell Gallery in London, England; Landmarks Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Winters’ Galleries in Carmel, California, and Waterfront Gallery in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

The artist at work at gallery opening


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Last updated: May 2005