Michael Ehle


Michael Ehle was a painter, illustrator and print maker working in Seattle, Washington. Born in Salinas, California, his mother worked in a library and his father was a painting contractor. Ehle was a self-taught painter, and after moving to Seattle in 1973, he soon became a prominent figure in the Seattle art world, becoming one of the region’s best-known artists.

Ehle often worked with Gouache on paper, painting solitary figures engaged in rituals and religious ceremonies. His unique painting style, reminiscent of Byzantine icons, helped to create deep philosophical and religious undertones to his work. As he and other artists responded to the AIDS epidemic, his work reflected a sense of introspection and an exploration of the human spirit. Especially later in life, as he continued to battle with the devastating effects AIDS had on his health, his work began to take on a more ominous tone, as the figures of his paintings were subjected to various physical trials, such as flames and needle pricks.

His work became closely associated with the Seattle Men’s Chorus who commissioned several paintings from him. He continued to produce work until his death from AIDS-related complications in December of 1999.

This tribute page was created by Visual AIDS.