Men & Women of Distinction: Gene Hatfield
Born in 1925 in Conway, a short distance from his current home, 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. A true Renaissance man, Hatfield has tested his hand in nearly every form of artistic expression - acting, writing, song, dance, painting and sculpture - and continues to challenge preconceived ideas of what is and is not art.
Hatfield is also well known for the varied sculptures that fill 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 Hatfield's favor established the legitimacy of his art, and he continues to add to the collection.
Perhaps Gene Hatfield's 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.