F. Scott Hess was born in Baltimore, MD, in 1955. He studied art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison honing his drawing and printmaking skills. Hess began to paint in 1979 at the Vienna Academy of Fine Art, studying in Austria for five and a half years. He had his first solo exhibition in Vienna in 1979 at Galerie Herzog. Hess won numerous grants and awards in Austria, including the prestigious Theodor Koerner Stiftung.
Hess moved to Los Angeles in 1984. The 80s proved successful years for the young artist, with solo exhibitions at Ovsey Gallery in Los Angeles (seven from 1985 to 1994) the Fisher Art Gallery at USC (1987), and the Fresno Museum (1991). Following a show of California artists at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 1987, Hess traveled through Southern Asia with fellow painter Peter Zokosky. Hess was included in numerous group shows throughout the decade in Austria, France, Germany, and the United States.
After receiving both the National Endowment for the Arts and Getty Museum Fellowships in 1991, Hess took his wife and baby daughter to Iran for a year. Perhaps the first American male to enter the Islamic Republic after the Iranian Revolution, Hess traveled to all corners of the country, exploring abandoned archaeological sites, ancient mosques, and Zoroastrian fire-temples. He gave a talk at Tehran University, the first American to speak publicly in Iran since the Revolution. This event was reported enthusiastically in the Iranian Press. In 1993, Hess held a residency for three months at the Bahman Cultural House in South Tehran.
Returning to Los Angeles in late 1993, Hess exhibited his Iranian paintings at Ovsey Gallery, and began a one-year exploration of kinetic sculpture and painted objects. In 1995, the artist obtained a teaching position at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. As an Adjunct Professor Hess helped train a new generation of figurative painters in Southern California until his resignation in 2007. He currently mentors MFA students at the Laguna College of Art and Design.
After his foray into three dimensions, Hess returned to painting in 1994. Embarking on a six-year cycle of allegorical works, The Hours of the Day, the artist depicted the actions of a mythical family through a twenty-four hour period. Shown in part at Hackett-Freedman Gallery, and complete at the Orange County Museum of Art (2001) and the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola-Marymount University (2001), the exhibition was a popular and critical success. This was followed by “The Hotel Vide,” a show at Hackett-Freedman Gallery (2002) of ten narrative still-life paintings that present a murder mystery. “The Seven Laughters of God and Other Paintings,” a series that examined an ancient Egyptian creation myth via the life of a young painter, was shown at the Laguna Museum in 2006.
In 1999 and 2000, Hess was part of the Los Angeles artists group, “The Bastards”, along with John Frame, Michael McMillen, Steve Galloway, Jon Swihart, and Peter Zokosky. Their paintings and objects were collaboratively produced, and exhibited in Los Angeles and Seattle. Hess produced a forty-five minute video on this collaboration, working under a grant from the Art Center College of Design in 2001. In 2005, a Faculty Enrichment Grant, from the same institution, allowed Hess to explore his family history in sixteen Southern states, and marked the beginning of The Paternal Suit project.
In 2005, Hess founded the F. Scott Hess Family Foundation, dedicated to the discovery and recovery of documents and artifacts pertaining to the artist’s family heritage. Director Hess has led the foundation to the frontiers of genealogical research and historical object acquisition. The result will be an exhibition entitled, “The Paternal Suit: Heirlooms from the F. Scott Hess Family Foundation,” slated for the Long Beach Museum of Art in 2012. Comprised of over 120 artifacts that follow the four hundred year struggle of Hess’ paternal lines in America, the show explores the glories and failures of the settlement of our continent through the prism of the artist’s personal family history.
The subject of twenty solo exhibitions to date, F. Scott Hess has also been included in over one hundred group shows on three continents. He is represented in numerous museum collections, and his work has been catalogued and reviewed extensively. Hess is represented by Hirschl and Adler Modern in New York, and Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Los Angeles. F. Scott Hess lives and works in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.
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