Walter Hatke's "Saint Francis"

Sunday, May 16, 3 p.m.

Presented by the Figge Art Museum

Praised by the New York Times for his “unblinking alertness” and delivering “a new kind of oddity and a renewed sense of provocation about painting,” a lauded artist will be the subject of the virtual May 16 presentation In Conversation: Jeremiah William McCarthy and Walter Hatke, in which McCarthy – the National Academy of Design's curator and co-curator of For America: 200 Years of Painting from the National Academy of Design speaks with Hatke about how his practice resonates with the work of the artists featured in the exhibition.

As the painter explains in his Artist Statement at, "Form, light space, time, perspective – in short, these comprise the elements that dovetail to shape my art. Recognizable subjects premised on direct observation automatically trigger contextual associations and connotations that can be accidental or deliberate depending on a particular work. My subjects emerge and engage my attention over time for no consciously preconceived reason. Time takes on meaning that differs from standard intervals. Tenses constantly shift. The compositions unfold and evolve over weeks, months, sometimes years. Taken together, my paintings and drawings become a sort of koinoi topoi, a personal collection of commonplaces. As in poetry, I, the artist, provide an image. Viewers bring their own experiences and perceptions to the image I present and come away with their own interpretations, which is exactly my intention.”

Hatke, who earned an MA from the University of Iowa in 1981 and an MFA the following year, continues, “The materials I employ are those painters have used for centuries: oil paint applied to Belgian linen stretched on wood frames; charcoal, graphite, or watercolor applied to heavy paper. My reasons for working in this manner are free from doctrinaire motives, apart from the simple fact I enjoy painting and drawing the way I do.”

From its founding in 1825 to the present, the National Academy has required all Academicians elected to donate a representative work to the Academy’s collection. From 1839 to 1994, the Academy also required associates to present a portrait of themselves, whether painted by their own hand or that of a fellow artist. This has resulted in a collection of over 8,000 works by historical and contemporary masters such as Winslow Homer, William Merritt Chase, John Singer Sargent, Andrew Wyeth, Jaune Quick-to-See-Smith, Charles White, Jane Freilicher, and many others. Of the popular For America exhibit, co-curator McCarthy says: “This exhibition presents the way artists see the world alongside the way they see themselves inhabiting that world. It’s an unprecedented look at the history of American painting written by its makers.”

The virtual presentation In Conversation: Jeremiah William McCarthy and Walter Hatke is free, but advance registration is required, and participants will receive an e-mail with a Zoom link two hours before the program begins at 3 p.m. on May 16. For America: 200 Years of Painting from the National Academy of Design is on display through May 16, and more information on the event and exhibition is available by calling (563)326-7804 and visiting

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