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Say YES to Your Adventure

7/20/16

Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

Joseph Campbell, American Mythologist, once observed, “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty YES to your adventure.” In fact, a hearty YES is the very attitude local artist Hank Keneally continues to weave into the fabric of his life and art.

The story of our lives comes forth through the art of our culture. Born in San Francisco, CA, Hank’s early story began in “the world of music,” with his older brother Mike quizzing him on the great composers. His grandmother, a piano teacher, had him on the keyboard heading for a group recital in San Francisco by the time he was 8 years old. Hank remembers, “I learned to read music before I could read words.” By age 11, he was off the keyboard and onto the trombone, practicing two hours a day, a disciplined habit Hank credits with his success in both his career as a counselor and in the arts. 

Hank’s family moved to Phoenix in 1956 with his father’s job coordinating Public Health Education for Native American tribes in five states. By age 14, he became the principal trombonist in the Phoenix Youth Symphony and the following two years was the principal trombonist in the All State Orchestra. Hank went on to attend Arizona State University on a music scholarship. After completing his Bachelors in Sociology, he continued his education with the completion of his Masters in Sociology and Counseling at ASU. Hank credits his interest in giving back to others through counseling to his father, and his passion for the fine arts to his mother.

During his early twenties, Hank began studying photography with Jack Stuler at ASU. He recalls, “Jack taught me to view the world through a child’s perspective and introduced me to the work of Edward Weston, who became a major influence on my work.” Hank would have the good fortune to attend photography workshops with Weston’s son Cole, and other great photographers in the field such as Dick Arentz, Bruce Barnbaum, and Judy Dater. By the time Hank was in his early 30s, he met and received tutorial insights and suggestions from Frederick Sommer. During this time, he was able to push his photography into the modernist realm. Eventually, not convinced he had pushed the edge far enough, Hank turned to the study of art, unraveling structure, traditions, relationships of form, and composition.

All the while Hank’s creative side was exploring “creation” possibilities, his intellectual side was working in a private counseling practice with his wife. Here the “power of myth” took shape in different and surprisingly similar ways. Using the blend of the two, Hank developed a serious commitment to painting. Applying his interest in the human psyche and his photographic expression of form he moved his art into, what he would call, “expressionist portraiture.” At this point, Hank found himself out of the “Age of Aquarius” and into the “Age of Computers.” Hank’s creations evolved into the “digital universe” traveling into light years of possibility.

Today, retired from his counseling practice, Hank works as a full time artist. His current passion is working on a series in Mixed Media. This work uses the structure and aesthetic of his “Diffusion Portraits” series and expands it to include drawing and painting in layers on his archival pigment ink prints. Going forward in 2016, Hank’s pieces are on exhibit at “Hot Art-Cool Show” in the Desert Foothills Library in Cave Creek, May-October 7,2016, The Central Arts Plaza, in Phoenix, May-July 2016 and “Face Off” at the Herberger, October-December 2016. 

Hank’s work is in a number of personal and corporate collections nationally. His book “Wallescapes” embodies the concept walls are signs of worlds ending and beginning. As Joseph Campbell wrote, “Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls.”  This has certainly been true of Hank Keneally’s life and work. View selections of Hank’s work, his exhibit schedule, or contact him via his Web site, www.hankkeneallyfineart.com.

Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield at flowingquill@yahoo.com.