Published: December 18, 2001
Ricco/Maresca Features a William L. Hawkins Retrospective
NEW YORK CITY – Ricco/Maresca Gallery will present a retrospective exhibition of works by William L. Hawkins from private and personal collections never previously exhibited from January 10 to February 6 at 529 West 20th Street.
Born in rural Kentucky in 1895, Hawkins moved north to Columbus, Ohio, in 1916. His early years in Kentucky provided him with his knowledge and love of animals, an awareness that informs even his most fantastic dinosaur paintings. In Columbus, Hawkins held an assortment of unskilled jobs, drove a truck, and even ran a small brothel. He was married twice and claimed to have fathered some 20 children. Although Hawkins was drawing and selling his work as early as the 1930s, he did not begin painting in the style for which he is best known until the mid-to late 1970s. He worked almost without letup thereafter, in spite of illness and advancing age.
At first, Hawkins used inexpensive and readily available materials: enamel paints in primary colors tossed out by a local hardware store, and a single blunt brush. Later, when he could afford it, he painted on masonite, which he preferred because it didn’t “suck up the paint” like cardboard or plywood. Sometimes he dripped paint or let it flow across the surface as he tilted the board so he could, as he put it, “watch the painting make itself.”
Hawkins painted everything, from local Columbus architectural monuments to Wild West gunfights, from prehistoric beasts to famous scenes from American history. The primary sources were derived from photographs torn from books, magazines and newspapers.
Hawkins suffered a stroke in 1989, from which he only partly recovered, and he died several months later. Immediately after his passing (he was almost 95), he was simultaneously mourned and celebrated by a solo exhibition at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, an event that announced the end of a vital career that was expected by many to go on forever.
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