"Men & Women of Distinction: Gene Hatfield" will premiere on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) Thursday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m. The program will rebroadcast on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 6:30 p.m.
This installment of "Men & Women of Distinction" tells the story of painter and sculptor Gene Hatfield, a lifelong Arkansan whose unique artistic perspective was shaped by growing up in the Great Depression, his decorated combat service in World War II, and his extensive formal training in some of the most prestigious studios in Europe.
"I learned from a movie that anyone who has any strength of character can say interesting things with watercolor," Hatfield said. "And so, I took that as a challenge."
Just a line in an instructional art film from the 1940s, it still resonates with Hatfield today at age 87. Born in 1925 in Conway, just a stone's throw from where he still lives today, Hatfield is one of the state's most prolific artists, with paintings and sculptures numbering in the thousands. His work is most closely compared to that of the post-impressionist masters.
In his own words and colorful stories, Hatfield paints the picture of a true Renaissance Man, who has tried his hand at nearly every form of artistic expression - acting, writing, singing, dancing, painting, sculpting - and continues to challenge preconceived ideas of what is and isn't art.
Hatfield may be most famous for the menagerie of sculpture that fills his yard. Created from recycled materials, or "found objects" as he prefers to call them, the statues have been lightning rods for controversy in recent years. In 2002 a legal ruling in his favor established the legitimacy of his art, and he continues to add to the collection today.
His greatest legacy is the indelible mark he made on art students during his 37-year tenure as a professor at the University of Central Arkansas. Helping to build the program from the ground up, he brought his extensive European training to the classroom. In 2010, he was honored with the award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, presented by the Gov. Mike Beebe.
A preview screening of "Men & Women of Distinction: Gene Hatfield" will be held in Conway prior to the broadcast premiere. The screening will be announced on aetn.org as soon details are finalized.
"Men & Women of Distinction: Gene Hatfield" is produced by Jon Renfroe and edited by Robert L. Davis.
"Men & Women of Distinction" features interviews with prominent Arkansans known for their citizenship, character and accomplishments. The series has previously featured former governors and U.S. senators David Pryor and Dale Bumpers, as well as former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former governor Sid McMath and Judge Morris Arnold. The series is underwritten by The Moving Image Trust Fund.
The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas's statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit aetn.org, or follow the AETN blog at aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).AETN.org > Engage > Pressroom > Artist Gene Hatfield profiled in AETN's 'Men & Women of Distinction' Dec. 12