Les Perhacs Biography

View Art by Les Perhacs

Born in 1940 in a vastly different Los Angeles, Perhacs explored the beaches and mountains from north to south into Baja California developing an affinity for animals of all kinds, particularly birds and sea life.  He credits his Hungarian father, an engineer and inventor for his early training in quality craftsmanship – in true European tradition he introduced his only son to the variety of machine crafts which were his forte when Perhacs was only six years old.

The Artist’s Father’s Chicago Shop circa 1938

The Artist’s Father’s Chicago Shop circa 1938

His love of nature is rooted in the time spent watching birds, collecting skulls, and skin-diving, often times with his uncle, taking trips following insects or animals for as long as necessary to satisfy their curiosities.

At age 16, Perhacs won a scholarship to Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles where he studied while still attending North Hollywood High.  After graduation, he spent a year at Art Center School of Design before going to Pratt Institute in New York.  It was there he studied under Willem & Elaine DeKooning, Buckminster Fuller, and Abstract Expressionist sculptor David Smith.

His love of the open spaces of Southern California led him back to the University of Southern California where he studied Industrial Design and Architecture.  While at USC in 1962, he won the National Alcoa Aluminum Student Design Award for his ‘tractor for the sea’, a battery powered diving saucer for divers and mariculture – inspired by his many hours of skin-diving with a design influence from the Mexican guitarfish.

After college, Perhacs went to work as a model maker and inventor for the Toy Development Center in Los Angeles.  He designed toys and games for Hasbro, Cragstan, Playskool, Mattel, Milton Bradley, A.C. Gilbert, and others as well as studio props for Universal Studios, Star Trek, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

He obtained a Scientific Collector’s Permit from the U.S. Department of the Interior authorizing him to collect protected birds and marine and freshwater vertebrates for the purpose of teaching Bionics at UCLA School of Industrial Design under the direction of Melvin Best (FIDSA) to further the study of nature’s functional forms and how they might be adapted as a basis for understanding form follows function.

Along with his job as an Industrial Designer and Inventor, Perhacs continued with his sculpture, exhibiting at several galleries in Southern California.  While Perhacs enjoyed these pursuits, his longing to become more involved with nature again, and to be able to observe wildlife and do more sculpture, led him to leave Los Angeles for the woods of the Pacific Northwest.  In 1968, he purchased twelve acres on Washington’s Puget Sound where he built a three-story A-frame house, studio, shop and bronze foundry – all in the middle of a conifer forest.  Over the next twenty years, he returned to live in the nature he loved and turned to sculpture in earnest.

In 1988, Perhacs decided to return to his native Southern California and built a 1,500 square foot studio with bronze foundry where he continues his work today in stone, steel and bronze.


In 2002, he embarked on a new series of work he calls ‘Chaos’, interpreting Nature through geometry.  Using basic geometric shapes, Perhacs ‘cuts them apart’ to create motion.  Through 2012 he has created more than 30 pieces in the series in fabricated bronze, steel, stone, and varying combinations.  He sees no difference in his abstract work from his realism – the goal is always to take the viewer ‘beyond the surface’.

Over the past 40 years, Perhacs’ works have been shown and collected internationally.  He is in the permanent collections of the State Capitol Museum in Olympia, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, and the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham.  In 2000, Perhacs earned ‘Master Artist’ honors from the Artists of America.  Public placements include the San Diego International Airport and Voorburg in The Netherlands.


Chouinard Art Institute. Los Angeles 1957-58 

Art Center College of Design. Los Angeles 1958 

Pratt Institute. Brooklyn, New York 1959-60
   Studied under
   David Smith
   Willem & Elaine deKooning
   Buckminster Fuller

University of Southern California. Los Angeles 1961-63
School of Architecture & Industrial Design


Specimen Collector: Marineland of the Pacific
Scientific Collector: Raven behavioral study
Lectured UCLA Department of Industrial Design
“Looking to nature for lessons in product evolution”
Industrial Designer: Toys & Products 

Public Collections

City of Leidschendam-Voorburg, The Netherlands
San Diego International Airport. San Diego
Whatcom Museum. Bellingham, Washington
Frye Art Museum. Seattle
State Capitol Museum. Olympia, Washington 

Selected Corporate Collections

Copley Newspapers. La Jolla, California
Bandai America Corporation, US Headquarters. Cypress, California
Muni-Financial Services Corporate Headquarters. Temecula, California
Bakish Materials Corporation. Englewood, New Jersey
US Bank Corporate Headquarters. Seattle
Paragon Ranch Limited. Denver
Peoples State Bank. Lynden, Washington
Peoples State Bank. Bellingham, Washington
First City National Bank. Houston
California Federal Savings. Los Angeles 

Selected Private Collections

Fletcher & Bobbie Benton
George & Pam Carlson
Harlan & Olivia Fischer, New York
David Leffel & Sherrie McGraw
Jack & Corda Zajac

Solo Exhibitions

Oceanside Museum of Art, Lobby Installation

Oceanside Museum of Art, Parker Gallery, Oceanside California

University of Judaism. Bel Air, California
Art Center at Fallbrook. Fallbrook, California

Art & Cultural Center at Fallbrook. Fallbrook, California

Meinhard Galleries. Dallas and Houston
Firebird Gallery. Corpus Christi, Texas

Perhacs Sculpture Gallery. Seattle

Frye Art Museum. Seattle

State Capitol Museum. Olympia, Washington

Arts Gallery. La Conner, Washington
McNay Art Institute Museum. San Antonio, Texas
First National Bank. San Antonio, Texas
Meinhard Gallery. Houston
First City National Bank. Houston
Frost National Bank. San Antonio
University of Texas at San Antonio
Artique Ltd. Anchorage, Alaska

Howard Terhune Gallery. Palm Springs 

Haines Gallery. Seattle
Carl Battaglia Gallery. New York, New York 

California Federal Savings. Los Angeles
Haines Gallery. Seattle

Gordon-Woodside Gallery. Seattle

Gordon-Woodside Gallery. Seattle

Frame House Gallery. Louisville, Kentucky

North Seattle Community College. Seattle 

Kramer Gallery. Los Angeles
Hudson-Risskan Gallery. Los Angeles 

Manhattan Gallery. Pasadena, California
Hudson-Risskan Gallery. Los Angeles

Jefferson Gallery. La Jolla, California

Selected Group Exhibitions

Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe ‘Contemporary Naturalism’
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, ‘Water and Stone’

Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe ‘Beyond the Surface’

‘Animal Magnetism’
Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana California

American Jewish University, Platt Gallery, Bel Air, California ‘Constructivism & Metaphor’

‘Beyond the Surface 2’ with Lynn Chadwick, Fletcher Benton, Bruce Beasley, Sorel Etrog, Jack Zajac
Art Center at Fallbrook. Fallbrook, California
Salon d' Arts. Denver, Colorado

‘Beyond the Surface’ with Phillip McCracken, Laddie John Dill.
Art Center at Fallbrook. Fallbrook, California

‘Les Perhacs & Burton Silverman’. Total Arts Gallery. Taos, New Mexico

Artists of America 20/2000. Denver, Colorado
Art & Cultural Center. Fallbrook, California

Total Arts Gallery. Taos, New Mexico
Michael Johnson Fine Art. Fallbrook, California
Art & Cultural Center. Fallbrook, California

Art & Cultural Center. Fallbrook, California
National Sculpture Society. New York, New York
Great American Artists Show. Cincinnati, Ohio

Robson Gallery. San Diego
Artists of America. Denver

Carson Gallery. Denver
Artists of America. Denver

Artists of America. Denver

Bellevue Art Museum. Bellevue, Washington

1986 - 1981
Artists of America. Denver

Carson Gallery. Denver

Tacoma Art Museum. Tacoma, Washington
Vorpal Gallery. San Francisco

Royal Ontario Museum. Ontario, Canada

Whatcom Museum. Bellingham, Washington

Design Eight. Pasadena, California

Designers Forum. Los Angeles, California

Selected Bibliography

‘The Art of Nature Connecting the World’ Wildlife Art Journal
‘Where the Wild Things Are’ Santa Fean
‘Texture and Humanity’. The Taos News. Eric J. Hedlund
‘Uneven Parallels’. Taos Magazine. Curtis Waters
‘Agony and Ecstasy in Providing Art for Port’.
North County Times. San Diego. Bruce Kauffman
‘Sculpture Other Than Bronze’. Art Talk. Bill Macomber
San Diego International Airport Monument Features CNN Local Headline News. Channel 10 News. San Diego Tribune. North County Times. Channel 8 News
‘Taking Shape’. North County Times. Bill Fark
‘An Artist’s Perspective’. Wildlife Art News. Les Perhacs
‘Using Art as a Language’. Wildlife Art News. Judy Hughes
‘A Study in Bronze’. San Diego Tribune. Tim Mayer
‘Beyond Accurate Representation’. American Artist. Mary Balcomb
‘Sculptor Tells Stories in Bronze’. Enterprise . Fallbrook, California. G. Clark
‘Life Looks Special Through the Eyes of This Sculptor’ Port Angeles Daily News. A. Guthrie
‘An Oracle’s Witness’. Southwest Art. Mary Balcomb
Celebrating Life with Sculpture’. Art West. Fran Traher
‘Artist Aims at Function, Simplicity’. Anchorage Times. Jessica Hollowell
‘Form Follows Function’. Corpus Christi Times. Danny Goddard
‘Stylized Interpretations’. Southwest Art. Mary Balcomb
‘Les Perhacs: Sculptor and Founder’. American Artist. Mary Balcomb
‘Change Experimentation Keys to Sculptor’s Art’. Daily Olympian. L Finestone
‘Stressing the Natural Look’. Seattle Times. Ranny Green
‘Les Perhacs, Sculptor’. Mary Balcomb and Putnam Macdaniel
‘Les Perhacs on Art & Design’. Seattle Channel 7 “Man in the Field” interviews
‘Metal is His Medium’. Seattle Times. Dolly Connelly
‘Nature is Sculptor’s Inspiration’. Seattle Times. John Voorhees
‘1962 Student Designs’. Design News