Paul Valentine Lantz, a native of Stromsburg, Nevada, was an American realist painter who lived and worked primarily in New Mexico. As a young child, he assisted a violinmaker in exchange for painting lessons. In 1923, at age 15, he was the youngest student admitted to the Kansas City Art Institute. He moved to New York City two years later to further his education at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League. Throughout the Great Depression, he gained recognition as a muralist in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Several of his projects were funded by the WPA. During this time, he worked closely with friend and fellow painter Randall Davey (1887-1964) and exhibited across the Southwest with the Rio Grande Painters Group.
In March 1940, he held his first solo exhibition, sponsored by Davey, at the 460 Park Avenue Gallery in New York City. Lantz presented a selection of southwestern landscapes and panoramas of the New York skyline. He was praised for his fresh eye and soundly structured compositions. The show overall was called “an earnest of progress.” Around this period, he traveled widely to various locales, including upstate New York, Mexico, Central America, England, and Ireland.
Lantz was an illustrator during World War II, traveling with an infantry-combat division to Papua New Guinea and the Phillippines. Before heading overseas, he spent two months stationed with the 21st Training Group at the Jefferson Barracks Military Post outside St. Louis. To commemorate his stay, he completed a mural entitled Jungle Warfare, 1943, a powerful artistic depiction of the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
After the war, he taught at his alma mater, the Kansas City Art Institute, and in San Francisco. Throughout his long career, he also illustrated more than thirty-five children’s books. He moved back to New Mexico permanently in 1974, settling on a ranch in the small town of Springer. His works are included in the collections of the Wichita Art Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art, New-York Historical Society, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.