"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

29 September 2011


Chatham, Storm Across the Prairie, 2006

ARTWORKS on Russell Chatham ...

I think I have lived up to expectations in the sense that I have stayed in an honorable position, which is all that matters. In terms of greatness I don’t think its possible for me to be a great artist. My grandfather was that. In my experience great artists are almost oblivious to things around them. Their focus on their art is so powerful they can’t do anything else. I think I’m very good, and that’s what I’m going to be. I can’t eliminate other things in my life – other passions. I love them all.”

Good but not great? There are plenty of collectors and critics who would argue the point, but that would be to miss the point. Chatham has moved beyond all the comparisons. He has found his own voice and refined it – with words and images. Even if he is reluctant to say it out loud, he knows he is moving to a new level. “Thirty or forty years ago I had a powerful dream that I came into my grandfather’s house and there were hundreds of people there, more people than could ever fit. It was a like a big open room that stretched way back and over the heads I could see the tops of these paintings that were my grandfather’s. But I’ve seen every painting he ever did, so why haven’t I seen these? I was furious at my mother and my aunt. Why have they not shown them to me before? No one would answer me. It was a very powerful dream.” Chatham pauses before continuing. “I think I’m painting those paintings now. They weren’t my grandfather’s paintings at all. They were mine.” It took a lifetime but Chatham has finally arrived at the moment when, for him, dreams come true.

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