SUMMER MOON RISING (2007), 24 X 30 inches, oil on Belgian linen, by Russell Chatham
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FIELDS NEAR SUCE CREEK, 25 X 31 inches, an original oil painting, by Russell Chatham
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FALL TWILIGHT (1984), 59.5 X 71.25 inches, oil on linen, permanent colleciton of Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, Montana, by Russell Chatham
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Russell Chatham fishing on cold water.
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INDIAN VALLEY IN MARCH, 19 X 15 inches, oil on linen, by Russell Chatham
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To Find Russell Chatham, Look Homeward

The Grandson Of Gottardo Piazzoni Searches For Another Start In Old Familiar Country

Written By Todd Wilkinson (Author's Bio)

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by Todd Wilkinson

Nature versus nurture:  How much of an artist's instinct is inherited, passed down generationally at the mitochondrial level?  How much is learned or owed to environment?  How much involves libertating oneself from the shadow of very talented ancestors?

Consider Russell Chatham and one Gottardo Fidele Ponziano Piazzoni.

Comparing photographs of Chatham to his celebrated grandfather, there is an undeniable physical resemblance.  In their youths and on into respective autumnal years, each possesses a similar bodily posture.  When shown scooched next to their surfaces—a look of knowing intensity in the faces—the orthopedic language appears to suggest they are attempting to climb into the scenes before them.

Yes, it is their art where transmuted spirit resides.

The great painter Gottardo Piazzoni working on a mural (photo by Ansel Adams);  Piazzoni's grandson, Russell Chatham, at work in his Montana studio.

People across the country are talking about Russell Chatham again. In the spring of 2011, a newspaper story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle claiming that Chatham had fallen upon hard times, that he picked up and left Montana bound for a studio on Tomales Bay in northern California.  Rampant speculation ensued.  Voyeurs wanted to know why? Had he quit the Big Sky state for good?

Those who know Chatham say the American painter, who helped usher forth the new era of modern Western regionalism—place-based impressionism absent the cliches of cowboys— had gone home to re-ground himself.  Rumors of his...

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Author: Todd Wilkinson

Editor's Comments:

'Where and who is Russell Chatham? He may be the best known living landscape painter in the Rocky Mountains.  After adopting Montana as his home and joining other celebrities in a place called Paradise Valley, he became an almost legendary figure leading a Hemingwayan outdoor existence.  Famous people collect his artwork, loved to dine at his restaurant and accompany him on fishing adventures to destinations like Key West.  But in recent years, Chatham has sought a lesser profile and gone through a period of  intense introspection on what it means to be an artist—a painter, no less, who is the grandson of Gottardo Piazzoni. Now he is back—back home again in California. The question is:  What's next? '

Research tags: russell chatham, Gottardo Fidele Ponziano Piazzoni, maurice del mue, wildlife art, museum of the rockies, paolo veronese, de young museum, wildlife art journal,, william hjortsberg, thomas mcguane, alfred pinkham ryder, clark city press, peter fonda, jimmy buffett, william randolph hearst iii, wildlife art journal,, todd wilkinson,

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