Houlahan postcard collage

Women artists of the Northwest series, featuring Kathleen Eva Houlahan.

As part of our Women Artists of the Northwest series, during March 2019 we are featuring works by Katherine Eva Houlahan. Born in Winnipeg, Canada, raised in Pasadena, California, Houlahan came to Seattle to study at the University of Washington at the age of 18, 1902-1907. She went on to study in New York at the Art Students League 1906 – 1914, with Robert Henri, K. H. Miller, and C. W. Hawthorne. She then went on to Paris where she studied at the Sorbonne in 1922, before returning to the northwest. Upon her return, her esthetic sense was captured as many Northwest artists by the boats and the mountains surrounding her. She was known to travel alone with a packhorse, particularly in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. Kathleen painted over 300 works in a fifteen year period, she was most active as an artist between 1914 and 1938, but stopped painting due to poor health long before her death.

Known as “Happy” by her mentor, Robert Henri and his wife, her dominant themes were northwest landscapes, floral watercolors, and portraiture. She was an active member in the National Arts Club of New York, the Society of Independent Artists of New York, and the Fine Arts Society of Seattle.

The Seattle Fine Arts Society of Artists invited Katherine to participate in the “First Annual Exhibition of Artists Northwest” in 1914, then again in 1915 and 1923. In 1928 she was invited to participate to part in an exhibition when the organization changed its name to Seattle Fine Arts Society, then again in 1933 with another name change and the construction of a permanent site known as the Seattle Art Museum.

She exhibited widely and was represented by galleries in Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, Oakland, and Seattle. In 1915 her work was included in the Panama-Pacific Exhibition held in San Diego, California.

She was the first artist selected to exhibit her work in the new auditorium at Frederick and Nelson’s in 1924. On Sunday 21, 1924 the Seattle Times wrote the following review: “The triumph pageantry of color of Miss Houlahan’s landscapes, and the vigorous, brilliant treatment of floral compositions against rich, dark backgrounds give an added beauty and dignity to the spacious, classic pillared auditorium.”

The Frye Museum held a retrospective of her work in 1968

Currently, her works can be found in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, the Frye Museum, Whatcom Museum, and the Seattle Museum of History and Industry.


Robert Henri (1865-1929) urban realist painter, a leader of The Eight and the Ashcan School and one of the most influential teachers of art in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, known for his use of lively brushstrokes and simplified forms.

Painter and master teacher, he led a crusade away from traditional academic painting and sought to link art with life, not theories. “Art is the giving by each man of his evidence to the world. Those who wish to give, love to give, discover the pleasure of giving,” he once explained.

Robert Henri was born in Cincinnati, OH with the surname Cozad, but took a new identity in 1881 when his father was indicted for manslaughter in Denver. He moved to the east coast to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1886 -1891) then at the Academie Julian and Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, France, before continuing his studies in both Spain and Italy.

Upon returning to the United States in 1892, he became an instructor at the School of Design for Women in Philadelphia. He then settled in New York City, where he taught at the New York School of Art and organized numerous exhibitions that featured urban realist scenes.

Henri spent much of the latter part of his career travelling and painting in New Mexico and Ireland. The artist died on July 12, 1929 in New York, NY. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Tate Gallery in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, among others.

To view his complete works visit: http://www.henrirobert.org/the-complete-works.html?pageno=1