History of Hal Pastorius: who was this artist?

  • Born in 1936, in Chilliwack, Canada:  A world of opportunity and options lay ahead for Hal [Harold].
  • On his 10th birthday (1946), he was living with his father in Long Beach, California, while his mother remained in Canada.
  • 1955 finds Harold at Long Beach City College for his first year of college.
  • 1956 he is in Pasadena conducting time and motion studies for Bourroughs Electro-Data in their manufacturing engineering department .
  • In 1958 Hal enlists in the Army because he was close to being drafted and the Army promised he could choose his field of training.   He was sent to Fort Bragg, N.C. where only due to his persistence, he was eventually trained as a meteorologist. The Army tried to “offer him” another option—to train as a paratrooper—but Hal was determined to receive the promise made at his Army enlistment.   After repeated “discussions” with his Commanding Officer, he was finally sent to meteorology school. Later as a meteorologist,  Hal volunteered for an experiment the military was conducting and received an extra day of furlough.  They were testing the effects of LSD on military personel’s ability to perform their duties.

When discharged, Hal tried to continued his education at California Polytechnic Institute of Pomona, but world events conspired to end his educational quest when he was recalled to active duty in 1961 due to the Berlin Wall incident in Europe.

Funny, the consternation created by this recall had a unique twist as he never made it to Europe, instead the military required Hal to teach swimming at Fort Hood to military families.

At age 25 [1961] this external trauma of military intervention into his life’s dream, galvanised Hal’s understanding of himself and his values. Five separate papers were written during this emotionally turbulent year identifying his creed and philosophy. [Read more regarding how this trauma moulded his philosophy of life.]


Harold Pastorius’ early years as an artist explored disparate media such as oil painting, photography, water colours, and pastels, but his later years concentrated on large scale metal sculptures. Hal was once asked the reason for becoming a metal sculptor and he replied, “I was a painter until curious events started to happen. My paintings became smaller and smaller and the frames kept getting larger. Finally, when I framed a 16×16-inch square painting in a six-foot frame, my wife bought me some welding equipment.”

From conception through execution, each work offers new perceptions of the ways we experience space, form and time. Hal was interviewed once and the question was how the viewers see his art, his reply was “people interpret the simplest elements and make their reality from it. A casual observer will say, ‘Oh, that was a beautiful sunset.’ But may not stop long enough to really observe what is taking place. I had a sculpture on Main Beach called ‘Vestige’ here in Laguna and people interpreted it in different ways. One person saw it as a religious cross while another saw it as a surfer going through the water. What it actually was to me was my impression of Baja, Mexico.”

Harold was recognised on the West Coast for his civic leadership, writing, engineering, set design, and site-specific sculptural interpretations. This recognition was in part due to his involvement in California’s art circles.

  • He served on the boards of:
    • The Artist Equity in Los Angeles
    • Orange County Arts Alliance
    • Pomona Valley Civic Theatre
  • He served as chairman of:
    • The Laguna Beach Arts Commission
    • Laguna Beach Cultural Commission
    • Orange County Arts Alliance Disciplines Committee
  • He served as the “First President of the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival”