Westward & Miserable: The Art of John Henry Haseltine

WESTWARD & MISERABLE is equally influenced by the bizarre realm of western culture between John Ford films and Howdy Doody, and the practical realizations the socially conscious are able to make while inhabiting western regions today. Within a painting, I don’t worry about separating western mythology from more revisionist historical realities, because from my perspective, revising the mythology of the west is a practice as old as the myths themselves and is a fundamental part of the medium. I paint with acrylic craft paint – it’s paint intended for derby racing cars, bird houses or paper mâché crafts, but it’s also ideal on canvas if you want everything to look like a giant, unmovable roadside Paul Bunyan statue. So much of this region’s aesthetics, history and rituals strike me as natural subjects for jarring narrative paintings. Apart from a tremendous amout of brush strokes, my job mainly comes down to figuring out how hunched over the guys in the painting should be, what beard lengths will be the funniest, and which people are crying or just about to start crying. I enjoy saddling these historical figures and stoic archetypes with some of the less glamorous emotions that occupy an awful lot of our brain space today (anxiety, neuroticism, self centered despair…). It’s why many of the “heroes” look like babies or little boys. These emotions aren’t ever included in our myths and folklore, but I find it hard to believe they weren’t there when these stories happened to whatever extent they actually did.

John Henry Haseltine is an artist, filmmaker, and performer. He sometimes makes puppets, but they aren’t super functional and you have to be REALLY careful if you want to use them.

Haseltine was born in 1987 and graduated from Emerson College in 2009 with a BA in film production. He initially resided in Los Angeles, working various film and TV production jobs while making his own short films and playing guitar in the punk band Thee Tee Pees. Eventually he settled in Livingston, Montana to dedicate more time to his art and give someone else a chance to bring coffee and lunch to television crews.

Like many artists before him, Haseltine found Montana’s geography and history a limitless source of inspiration, despite rarely venturing outside of his home studio or darkened theater spaces. He’s comforted in the knowledge that the vistas are out there, and will eventually get out and poke around some. He hears it’s amazing!