exhibitions

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Green door gallery, Livingston MT - Aug 28 - oct 23 2020

WESTWARD & MISERABLE is equally influenced by the bizarre realm of western culture between John Ford films and Howdy Doody, and the practical realizations the socially conscious are able to make while inhabiting western regions today. Within a painting, I don’t worry about separating western mythology from more revisionist historical realities, because from my perspective, revising the mythology of the west is a practice as old as the myths themselves and is a fundamental part of the medium. I paint with acrylic craft paint - it’s paint intended for derby racing cars, bird houses or paper mâché crafts, but it’s also ideal on canvas if you want everything to look like a giant, unmovable roadside Paul Bunyan statue. So much of this region’s aesthetics, history and rituals strike me as natural subjects for jarring narrative paintings. Apart from a tremendous amount of brush strokes, my job mainly comes down to figuring out how hunched over the guys in the painting should be, what beard lengths will be the funniest, and which people are crying or just about to start crying. I enjoy saddling these historical figures and stoic archetypes with some of the less glamorous emotions that occupy an awful lot of our brain space today (anxiety, neuroticism, self centered despair…). It’s why many of the “heroes” look like babies or little boys. These emotions aren’t ever included in our myths and folklore, but I find it hard to believe they weren’t there when these stories happened to whatever extent they actually did.

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a fine night for the woodsmen

30 x 48 inches. SOLD

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A loving and tender ode to the nuclear family of yesteryear and the early Caucasian settlers of Livingston’s Paradise Valley, this is Haseltine’s most meticulously researched painting to date. Viewers may be surprised to learn that male children (such as the one depicted here clutching the ax), without the influence of television, social media, high sugar diets, processed foods and hands-off discipline, were usually able to develop full beards by the age of eight. The milky smooth chin that adorns the faces of today’s youth is the price we in the 21st century pay for our systemic institutionalized state of arrested development and socially constructed perennial adolescence.

 

Haseltine employs some creative license in the depiction of the baby however, as that robust of a beard on an infant would be absurd in real life.

 

While the constellations and most of the flora and fauna here are absolutely accurate, arborists are quick to point out the peculiar tree in the center of the painting. Due to the impending demise of said tree at the reluctant hands of the little boy, Haseltine chose to paint a fictitious tree so as not to upset his more liberal leaning fans.

Lewis & clark and the quest for the northwest passage

Lewis & Clark and the Quest for the Northwest Passage John Henry Haseltine

48 x 60 inches. SOLD

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As was typical of the time, much was documented about the caucasian members of the expedition. Virtually no information on the intrepid female Native American child who served as their guide, or the African American man who frequently accompanied William Clark on his missions exists.

 

Historians have carefully combed through the accounting and pay ledgers for the Corps of Discovery, but found no clues to help identify the persons in question. This was especially perplexing to Nathan Shoemaker, the key forensic accountant for the Legacy and Preservation division of the United States Revenue Stewardship. “I can’t tell you how many times peeking at old pay ledgers gives us all the insight we need to fill in the gaps in any given situation under investigation,” Shoemaker said, but here he was proven wrong.

 

“I was convinced we’d gather some information about these two individuals, but there’s no financial record of them whatsoever, which is plain weird. We can romanticize the discovery of the Northwest Passage now, but back then it was hard work! I can’t imagine anyone doing it for free, I mean, why would you? It’s possible they were paid under the table, but that’s VERY contradictory to what we know about both Lewis and Clark. Nothing suggests they would have made an arrangement like that, it just isn’t them.” It’s a mystery that’s been on Shoemaker’s mind for over 25 years. “The girl was supposed to have been fairly young,” he noted, “maybe it was an internship type of situation or something. Basic labor in exchange for work experience or bird watching opportunities… I just don’t know.”

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60 x 48 inches. SOLD

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In recent years, the legacy surrounding the myriad of colorful characters comprising the history of the West has rightly come under no small amount of moral scrutiny. Those who once inhabited our collective imagination as folk heroes, are now seen as devastating symbols of colonization and prominent examples of western civilization’s destructive and savage nature. Amongst many contenders, there is perhaps no 19th century figure more prone to contemporary controversy than John “Liver-Eating” Johnson, the famed mountain man who had a life long blood feud with the Crow Indians, earning his handle by literally eating the livers of slain members of the tribe.

 

Johnson gained much more notoriety for his unsettling history than his other exploits, which were practically erased from the public’s memory. Today, many people learn of fellow mountain man John Colter’s naked escape from the Blackfeet Tribe, but Liver-Eating Johnson found himself in an identical situation, except, as he would recount over and over again, “I had to do in the winter!” Later in life, Johnson became obsessed with discrediting Colter’s escape and drawing more attention to his own much frostier adventure. “Isn’t it convenient nobody ever mentions what season it was when that happened to Colter?” he was known to lament.

Liver-eating Johnson escapes!

To most mountain men, whose lives were a collection of hair-raising adventures and near death experiences, the advent of cinema had little to offer as far as entertainment was concerned.  Johnson, on the other hand, was particularly influenced by Wyatt Earp’s ability to collaborate with Hollywood and retell his story the way he thought it ought to be told. While Tinseltown had to wait long after the death of figures like Hugh Glass to tell their story, Johnson eagerly answered the call from the “far west.” Johnson was adamant that his naked snowy escape be captured on celluloid and championed hard for Robert Redford to portray him in the film. Spokespeople from the Crow, Blackfoot and Flathead tribes, in addition to other surviving mountain men at the time, unanimously lamented the decision to have “pretty boy” Bob Redford play such a robust and contentious figure from their past, but old Liver-Eating Johnson remained convinced. “I know a lot of those fellows would rather someone like James Garner, or George Kennedy play me, and I respect that, but Bob Redford has the best body out of all the men in Hollywood at this time.” Johnson was so invested in the naked escape scene that finding the best actor for that specific chapter of history was his only priority. He was quick to reject performers like Tab Hunter and Rock Hudson, even though he “knew they [had] great bodies, but they’re not natural. Bob looks just as good as Rock or Tab without his shirt, but it doesn’t look like he spends all day in the gym!” Johnson’s relationship with Hollywood was eventually severed when, despite landing Redford for the lead, the naked winter escape was unceremoniously cut from the film due to the nation’s unwillingness to see a picture with full frontal male nudity. “It’s the worst thing to ever happen to anyone in America,” the Crow Killer said. He withdrew his support from the project, and for legal reasons, the producers were forced to retitle the film “Jeremiah Johnson.”

Look at all those rocket ships!

40 x 30 inches. SOLD

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While on the surface, this may appear to be a simple painting chronicling the declining cultural interests in all things Western as the Space Race captured the hearts of the world, closer examination reveals more subtle intricacies embroidered within the depiction of this cosmic terrestrial artifact.

 

Years before the official start to the Space Race, renowned western fashion designer Clyde Walker noticed his classic western-shirts’ sales declining in patterns that ran proportionate to advancements in the aerospace industry as well as the increasing production and popularity of science fiction films and television shows. Walker knew the west, long since discovered, long since conquered and modernized could never compete with the allure of Outer Space. A keen observer, Walker noticed several key similarities between traditional cowboys and modern astronauts. They shared a fearless obsession with uncharted, uninhabitable territory and loved snap-buttons on their clothing. In a morally dubious, but ultimately insufficient bout of capitalistic strategy, Walker lobbied hard and ultimately unionized western-wear manufacturers as well as snap button press operators from Texas to Southern California giving Western Wear designers across the world exclusive rights to the use of the suddenly patented snap-button. This was a devastating blow to the scientists and technicians attempting to send Americans into space, because the snap-button proved to be instrumental to both the developing space suits and space craft.

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Some reports reference a secret phone call to Walker from President John F. Kennedy urging him to sever the exclusive relationship he had formulated from his unionizations. Others close to Walker insist Walker had a change of heart independent of any rumored political outreach. Those sources say Walker changed his tune after learning about the worldwide popularity and admiration of Laika, the Russian dog sent into space. “It should have been an American dog” Walker allegedly said. He was a ruthless business man and talented designer, but he was also an American. He disbanded his unions and allowed NASA free access to the snap-button technology. 

 

Walker lost a fortune, but the United States’ legacy in the history of space exploration was cemented. He vanished from the public eye in 1971, and his body was found in a trailer outside of Fort Meyers, Florida in 1987. His death was apparently caused by complications from his lifelong battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. This painting represents the sacrifice Walker ultimately made: a cowboy, outfitted with a snap-button western shirt gleefully announces the arrival of the rocket ship.

Bigfoot steals teddy Roosevelt's favorite sucking pig

Bigfoot Steals Teddy Roosevelt's Favorit

10 x 20 inches. SOLD

Because Roosevelt’s interest in colonization has of late overshadowed his previous reputation as a hearty conservationist who shouldered a significant amount of the momentum in cementing the prominence and protection of the United States’ sacred National Parks, many viewers undoubtedly conclude that Bigfoot is depicted here rescuing the sucking pig from the hands of a red faced imperialistic faux-socialist, but make no mistake, this mythic North American ape will devour the swine, ingesting every ounce of flesh off it’s bones.

Politics aside, this piece was reportedly inspired by Haseltine’s frustration with the glaring inaccuracies found in the film “Harry and the Hendersons,” which depicted a vegan Bigfoot. While the film contains one of John Lithgow’s finest performances, Haseltine was unable to forgive the misinformation and fictions that were so integral to the film’s plot.

John Colter: The first white man in Yellowstone

John Colter the First White Man in Yello

24 x 12 inches. SOLD

Based on the varied and often contradictory accounts of John Colter’s first pass through Yellowstone, this painting adheres to the legend that Colter believed he discovered the gates of Hell when he first spotted the erupting geysers and bubbling hot springs in the area.

In all likelihood, the horse in the painting would be notably spooked by such a geyser, but Haseltine has rendered it calm, indicating that the horse does not share the same Judeo-Christian inspired comprehension  of Hell as Colter.

Rodeo Clown with Compound Fracture

20 x 16 inches. SOLD

PRINTS AVAILABLE

Commissioned by the Rocky Mountain Rodeo Arts Heritage Collective, Rodeo Clown with Compound Fracture was originally intended to serve as the cover art for the collective’s annual Tribute to the Rodeo Clown edition of the popular Rodeo Boys magazine. The Rodeo Boys’ editing staff was appalled by Haseltine’s final product and demanded the Rocky Mountain Rodeo Arts Heritage Collective commission a more acceptable, less offensive piece from an entirely different artist. After finding a more suitable replacement, the Collective was then able to sell Rodeo Clown with Compound Fracture to the infamous philanthropist and western art collector Edna “Breezy” Gwynn. Gwynn thought it would be an ideal addition to the downstairs guest-room bathroom at her home in Sweet Grass County, but had to put the piece in storage in the old barn as the room was being occupied by her step daughter Samantha Foote following a recent divorce at the time the painting was purchased. Foote felt the painting would counteract the self healing she had set out to do.

 

Rodeo Clown with Compound Fracture was almost lost when a severe wildfire spread through Gwynn’s property. Fortunately Herb Petter, Gwynn’s longtime caretaker was able to rescue the painting merely moments before the old barn was incinerated. It was an act of bravery

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Petter shrugged off. “I really liked that painting” he told the Sweet Grass County Chronicle. “I know a lot of folks didn’t like it, but I did, and when I saw the fire shooting over to the barn I knew what I had to do.” Petter later admitted he should have set out the livestock before retrieving the painting.

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LUNCHtime!

16 x 20 inches. SOLD

This painting is a prime example of Haseltine’s tendency to blend reality with fantasy through his use of artistic license. Everyone knows lumberjacks are real, their prime directive being to cut down trees, but here they are depicted as almost carbon copies of each other save for the alternating color of their shirts, lunchboxes, and suspenders. While certain members of any given lumberjack group could conceivably look similar, it’s unlikely that they all would have looked identical and illogical to assume they would have the exact same lunches as one another. The general style of their clothing suggests these lumberjacks are from the mid 20th century and live in their own homes in a nearby town as opposed to camping out for months at a time in the wild. The presumed access they all independently would have had to food and clothing suggests why their similarities are so far-fetched.

Nobody told us it was going to be so hard!

48 x 30 inches. AVAILABLE

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I've been a bad boy!

BADBOY.jpg

24 x 18 inches. SOLD

Potatoes, sheep & spooks: the earlier works

What follows is a miscellaneous gallery of some earlier pieces. Most of them were pretty darn small. Some of them are good... others not so much...