Richard Haas has been called a magician, only his magic wand is a paintbrush. For four decades, Haas has been a one-man urban renewal project, turning blank walls into artistic treasures.
"I see myself, first of all, simply as an artist," he told correspondent Serena Altschul. "Secondly, I'm a painter, drawer, printmaker, muralist, and occasional, partial city planner."
Left: In 1992, Haas altered this roof's shape and filled in four windows when he created a 60-foot high trompe l'oeil memorial sculpture of the local Native American hero Black Hawk.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan
St. Louis, Mo.
Richard Haas uses a technique called trompe l'oeil, which in French means "trick of the eye." It's a style that he first learned about while looking at photographs his parents brought back from their honeymoon in Germany.
Left: A detail of a painted equestrian statue of St. Louis on the south façade of the Edison Brothers Stores building in St. Louis.
Miami Beach, Fla.
Left: In the mid-1980s, Richard Haas painted a building's bare facade with an "Arc de Triomphe" revealing the original Fountainebleau Hilton Hotel beyond.
The 18-story apartment building at 1211 North LaSalle Street stands out, with bay windows, a grand entrance arch, and an extravagant rose window. But all the ornate architectural flourishes are a mirage, no deeper than a couple layers of paint.
"If you look at it from the East side you see about 100 windows, half of which are real," Haas said. "There are stories about people coming to rent apartments and saying that they want a place where the bay windows were, and they were disappointed to learn that those bay windows didn't exist in reality."
New York City
Haas' first outdoor mural, in 1975, covered the bare brick wall of 112 Prince Street in Manhattan, using paint to mimic the cast-iron facade on the front of the building.
As a child growing up in Spring Green, Wisconsin, Haas aspired to be an architect, in part due to another local boy-made-good, Frank Lloyd Wright. He thought he would follow in his idol's footsteps, but in college, he had a change of heart:
"Part of what began to bother me," he said, "was the tedious stuff that you had to do in between those great renderings and drawings that I admired. And I wasn't sure I was ready for a life that was 80 percent tedium and maybe 20 percent the rest."
Left: This building on Milk Street in Boston seems to be forever under construction, thanks to Haas' mural.
Madison, Wis.This mural's fake windows reflected a soon-to-be-built convention center. The mural was covered over after the convention center was actually built.
New York CityRichard Haas painted this glockenspiel mural in the Yorkville section of Manhattan.
Trompe l'oeil sculptures decorate the former Board of Education building in Brooklyn, N.Y., completed in 2007.
"I think a mural can change a neighborhood in many ways," Haas told Altschul. "Because it begins to make people aware of what the beauty is that surrounds them."
Brooklyn, N.Y.Detail of fake sculptures painted onto the facade of 110 Livingston Street in Brooklyn.
New York CityThe south wall of a Con Ed substation near New York's South Street Seaport was painted by Richard Haas to incorporate trompe l'oeil facades and a cutaway view of the nearby Brooklyn Bridge.
Portland, Ore.In 1989 Richard Haas painted murals on four sides of this six-sided building, depicting members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, for the Oregon Historical Society.
St. Louis, Mo.A 110,000-square-foot mural by Richard Haas features obelisks and painted sculptures on the Edison Brothers Stores building in St. Louis, Mo.
Fort Worth, Texas"Homage to the Chisholm Trail" (1985), on Sundance Square, features a faux sculptural relief depicting an 1860s cattle drive through Fort Worth.
The painted facade of this building near Isartor, Munich, looks onto a non-existent courtyard, including a view of a parked 1932 Mercedes Benz.
Yonkers, N.Y."Gateway to the Waterfront," painted by Richard Haas.
Washington, D.C.In 1984 Richard Haas began a cutaway mural on the building next to the house with President Lincoln died in Washington, D.C., with the north and south sides depicting Lincoln as a young and older man. The Department of the Interior halted the project when only one side was completed. It has since been covered over.
Washington, D.C.Richard Haas' interior mural at the New Quadrangle Museum Complex, Washington, D.C.
A Richard Haas mural covering part of the Fulton Theater in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Paul Goldberger, the architecture critic for Vanity Fair, said of Haas' work, "He makes people look at architecture, he makes people stop and think about architecture and realize that buildings are not just a backdrop. They're also an active presence in our lives."
For more info:
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan