Rodney Hatfield

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Self-taught painter and Kentucky bluesman Rodney Hatfield, aka “Art Snake,” crafts characters by riffing and improvising unlikely and witty elements together as he pours out a steady stream of fiddlers, washboard players, mavericks, sorcerers, lovers and solitary eccentrics peppered with animals that wander through the theater that comprise his canvases.

Rodney Hatfield

ARTIST STATEMENT

"I am mostly trying to get out of the way and let the work be what it wants to be."

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

RODNEY HATFIELD

BORN 1947, Blackberry Creek, Kentucky.  Self-taught and gutsy, Rodney Hatfield works from an extremely imaginative, often surreal inspiration, pairing unlikely, witty elements together.  Decades of experience as a blues harmonica player in bands, may influence not just the characters he crafts, whom are often musicians, but also the quality of improvisation that dominates his process.  “Mining his experience for material, he pours out a steady stream of fiddlers, washboard players, guitarists, mavericks, sorcerers, lovers, and solitary eccentrics.  Animals of all kinds, most of them seeming very familiar, wander through the theater and literature that comprise Art Snake’s (Rodney’s artist moniker) canvases” observes Suzanne Deats when writing on Rodney’s subjects for Focus Santa Fe.

His birthplace, isolated, rural, Appalachian Kentucky might be considered one of Rodney’s strongest initial influences; he has chosen to continue to live and work in the Louisville area, where he connects to the people and landscape.  Unfamiliar with contemporary art or art history until later in life, Rodney’s scrappy and bold approach to mixing media, textures, and stream of conscious ideas flowed, unhindered by rules or emulation.   

“I like to think of my painting as sort of visual poems,” says Hatfield.  “My paintings were described before as being ‘whimsical yet disturbing.’  I like the idea that they embrace both the light and the dark.”  Rodney’s portraiture involves the invention of wild characters and fantastical animals.   Though they are not menacing, they are usually unruly.  Idiosyncratic characters act as icons in each of his paintings and collages.  They squarely populate his forests of patterns, textures, words, and abstract shapes.

With a scavenging habit, Rodney will recombine found and weathered objects, newspaper clippings, napkins and other rubbish and transform them as either the abstract environment occupied by his heroines or as comprising actual parts of his figures in sculptures or collages.  A recent series of collages on cardboard combine ink, painting, drawing, text, newspaper clippings, comic strips, and advertisements to augment the graphic and simplified black ink outlines of charming new actors, such as “The Juggler”, “Rainy Day Woman”, and “Catman”.  The legible words from the clippings and the ones spelt out in collage, announce new layers of meaning for those willing to peer in.

Rodney Hatfield has been shown regionally in the Kentucky area as well as in the southwestern United States and Ecuador.  He has produced works for exhibition at the Headley-Whitney Museum, Artspace, and the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

 

SELECTED EXHIBITION 

2011  Selby Fleetwood Gallery; Santa Fe, NM  
2010  Selby Fleetwood Gallery; Santa Fe, NM
2010  Swanson Reed Contemporary; Louisville, KY
2009  Selby Fleetwood Gallery; Santa Fe, NM
2009  Swanson Reed Contemporary; Louisville, KY
2008  Kentucky Center for the Arts; Louisville, KY
2008  Bennett Street Gallery; Atlanta, GA
2008  Selby Fleetwood Gallery; Santa Fe, NM
2007  Selby Fleetwood Gallery; Santa Fe, NM
2007  Lynne Fine Art; Scottsdale, AZ
2007  Swanson Reed Contemporary; Louisville, KY
2006  Selby Fleetwood Gallery; Santa Fe, NM
2006  Lynne Fine Art; Scottsdale, AZ
2005  Swanson Reed Contemporary; Louisville, KY
2005  Deloney Newkirk Fine Art; Santa Fe, NM
2005  Lynne Fine Art; Scottsdale, AZ
2005  Kentucky Center for the Arts;  Louisville, KY
2004  Deloney Newkirk Fine Art; Santa Fe, NM
2003  Swanson Reed Contemporary; Louisville, KY
2003  Deloney Newkirk Fine Art; Santa Fe, NM
2003  Swanson Reed Contemporary; Louisville, KY
2002  Deloney Newkirk Fine Art; Santa Fe, NM
2002  Swanson Cralle East Market; Louisville, KY
2001  Deloney Newkirk; Santa Fe, NM
2000  Swanson Cralle East Market; Louisville, KY
1999  Expressions in Fine Art; Santa Fe, NM
1998  Swanson Cralle East Market; Louisville, KY
1998  Expressions in Fine Art; Santa Fe, NM
1997  Only Artists; Cincinnati, OH
1997  Kentucky Center for the Arts; Louisville, KY
1996  Swanson Cralle Gallery;  Louisville, KY
1995  Artsplace; Lexington, KY
1994  Swanson Cralle Gallery; Louisville, KY
1993  Lexington Public Library; Lexington, KY
1993  Instituto de Capacitacion Municipal ICM-Quito; Quito, Ecuador
1993  Joseph Beth; Lexington, KY
1993  Café La Plazuela; Quito, Ecuador
1993   Posada Kingman; Quito, Ecuador
1992   Swanson Cralle Gallery; Louisville, KY
1991   Appalshop Gallery; Whitesburg, KY
1990   Capital Gallery of Contemporary Art; Frankfort, KY
1989   Swanson Cralle Gallery;  Louisville, KY
1988   Merida Gallery; Louisville, KY
1988   Artsplace; Lexington, KY
1987   Headley-Whitney Museum; Lexington, KY

 

selected collections

Kentucky Center for the Arts; Louisville, KY
Casa del Torro Gallery; Quito, Ecuador
Kenmark Optical; Louisville, KY
Stites and Harbison; Louisville, KY
Rick Heath and Merrily Orsini
Donald and Clare Cox
Bob Schiffer; New York, NY
Liam Neeson; Los Angeles, CA
John Irvin; Los Angeles, CA
Gene Hackman; Santa Fe, NM
Sarabande Books; Louisville, KY
Susan Contreras and Elias Rivera; Santa Fe, NM
Judge William Graham; Frankfort, KY