Lyle Matoush Obituary
Lyle Francis Matoush, Professor Emeritus of Art at Southern Oregon University (SOU) and Master printmaker and artist, passed away at Linda Vista Nursing and Rehab Center January 3rd, 2021, of complications related to Covid-19. He was born in 1930 in Julesburg, Colorado. He is survived by his wife Jime Matoush who resides at Skylark Assisted Living in Ashland, children Toby Leigh Matoush and Victor Evangelos Matoush, and grandchildren, Mallory Amanda and Matthew Hikaru. Lyle and Jime Matoush have lived in Ashland for 55 years. Lyle was an important member in the Oregon printmaking scene as well as a founding member of the Northwest Print Council. He taught at Southern Oregon University for 39 years and had many art exhibits over the years. He was also instrumental in mentoring new artists and printmakers. He was a beloved figure recognizable to many on the streets of Ashland and at the university, and is described by one friend as a local celebrity. Known to many as the candy-man, Lyle was a Santa-Claus like figure who could be seen in his stylish feathered hat riding through town on his red scooter distributing candy to delighted friends everywhere.
Lyle earned his BA in art education from Colorado State College at Greeley and was on the winning football team that was awarded the Colorado State Championship when he was a freshman. Lyle used to tell a story that he got into lithography after seeing maps being printed during his service during the Korean war. After receiving his MA in printmaking at San Francisco State University he apprenticed to master lithographer Ernest de Soto at the Collectors Press in San Francisco. At that time, there were fewer than 50 master printers in the country. He started teaching high school in Paoli, Indiana, (1957-59) and in Klamath Falls (1960-65) until he had an opportunity to instruct at the University of British Columbia (1964-5) in the summers and at Southwestern Oregon Community College in 1966 as a guest faculty.
In 1965 he was instrumental in developing the printmaking program with Betty LaDuke at what was then called Southern Oregon State College. He found presses and old commercial limestones and established a teaching studio in an army barrack acquired from White City. Matoush was an important part of a cohort of young professors after World War II which included Glen Alps and Gordon Gilkey who revitalized print-making between the 1950s and '70s. Matoush envisioned printmaking as an ideal medium for artists and students to make multiple copies of their work, while at the same time retaining a tactile sense of their original process of creating images. Before retirement, he was given the opportunity to travel to the University of Guanajuato to teach printmaking there by then SOU University President Joe Cox.
Lyle had many art exhibits during his adult life; he showed multiple times in group shows at the Schneider Museum in Ashland and had many shows at the Hanson Howard Art Gallery in Ashland as well as at the Treehaven and Heiter Galleries. He also had a large show featuring his own art as well as artists from his extensive art collection at the Schneider Museum in 2000. Outside of Ashland, he had group shows at the Portland Art Museum and at Coos Bay art galleries. He also exhibited his art internationally with a major solo show at the Museo del Pueblo in Guanajuato in 2003.
As a professor at SOU for 35 years, he influenced and mentored a number of artists and printmakers over the years which included Miguel Rivera who now chairs the Kansas City Art Institute Printmaking Program. Although he taught other required art classes which included drawing, ceramics, jewelry, and color theory, his focus was on classes in lithography, relief printing, and intaglio. Matoush worked with both abstract and realism and his art reflected a fascination with color, reflections of objects and light. His subject matter was often his immediate environment and he frequently did series on related objects such as mannequins, cars, nature, etc. After he was unable to work with prints due to physical limitations, he began working in pastel.
Matoush was a founding member of the Northwest Print Council, which was created with the mission of supporting and promoting printmakers in the states of Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia. Annual meetings and lively interaction between regional artist members of this council led to Matoush developing a highly diverse collection of art. This art was obtained via trades or purchases on travels, at art fairs and elsewhere – and most appropriately – received as remuneration for the printing assistance he gave those artists unfamiliar or less familiar with the medium. Matoush continued his support of young artists and printmaking through donations to the Schneider Museum of Art. Lyle and his wife also started the Jime and Lyle Matoush Fund for Printmaking at SOU. Furthermore, Lyle was a longtime supporter of the Rogue Gallery and Art Center started by close friend Eugene Bennett and other Medford artists. Until the Schneider Museum of Art was built in 1986, this was the only venue for bringing art into the Rogue Valley.
Lyle will be remembered as an important artist who influenced and drove printmaking in Oregon, a beloved professor of art, a mentor to many new artists and printmakers, and as a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He is described by the Mail Tribune in a 2008 article as "the godfather of art printmaking in Southern Oregon." He was a greatly loved figure in the Oregon art scene and at SOU for many years, recognizable by the mischievous twinkle in his eye, his infectious laugh, and his friendliness to everyone he met. His beautiful and larger than life spirit will live on in his art which can be seen at the Schneider Museum and in the homes of relatives, friends, and fellow artists. It also lives on in the spirit of his grandson who is already an accomplished artist at 14. A celebration of life is being planned for early summer; please contact Lyle's daughter Toby at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, to assist with planning, or to speak. He will be greatly missed by family and friends.