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 Kenneth Vance Hanna  (1946 - )

About: Kenneth Vance Hanna


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Lived/Active: California/Michigan      Known for: landscape, buildings, sculptor

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Kenneth Vance Hanna
An example of work by Vance Hanna
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Kenneth Vance Hanna is a painter of landscape, quite often with architectural subjects, and also is a sculptor working in bronze and precious metal. His work is in the permanent collection of California State University.

The following is submitted by the artist, November 2003:

I've always painted. Vance Hanna

Many years ago a friend said to me, when we were in art school at San Jose, "Vance, the resulting art itself is really the residue of the experience." I recall that statement and live with it almost as though it was more of a journey than the result. Art and the creation of an object then, is for the artist. Often times I reflect upon that young fellow who, upon the initial smell of oil paint over forty years ago, not only piqued his interest in painting, but actually had to taste it! Of course it is not something I'd recommend!

Painting from 'plein aire' is a joy that is difficult to express in words. It is something that is a bit of a 'side show' for the passer bye, and I often feign the use of my speech. One time in Mexico I blurted out in French that I don't speak Spanish, immediately with smiles, the couple replied they were from Paris and of course we carried on for a while with laughs. I played the mute in Leelanau several times as I painted the fishing village simply because there was work to be done. Painting is work. And plein aire is really a challenge. Painting is something of a puzzle for me and I'm sure for other plein-aire artists as well. As you are absorbing the view, clouds come and go, shadows form here and there, and quite honestly, your feelings are in flux. The hope for each experience out in the field is " the down side of the slope". This is when you know the painting has taken on a life of it's own and you're job now is to complete the work dictated by the canvas. "Ce la vie!"

I'll not forget the time when my son Lain was quite young and he 'had to paint'. I was painting a still life after we'd gathered vegetables from the garden and Lain was painting too! The works became more charged with energy as we sampled certain vegetables along the way! His influence upon my works was refreshing as sometimes a more direct approach or Zen like state is preferred especially "au plein aire."

The works in metal are something else entirely. My daughter commented to me about ten years ago that I should create a bonsai lamp. I wondered what she meant. By coincidence no more than a week later, I found myself in an antique shop looking at a bronze lamp base made by L.C.Tiffany near the turn of the last century. I noticed that it was in the form of an 'elm tree' with branches sawn to stubs and wondered why Tiffany had not created the "bonsai lamp". Now I knew. Bonsai was really not present in Europe or the Americas until much later. Oh sure, the Brooklyn Botanic had some potted trees, and there were a few 'curious' oriental plants in certain saloons in Europe, but not enough to make bonsai known to the world.

At that very moment, I knew what Kathryn meant! I rushed home to my studio and gathered the necessary items for the armature and began with clay forming the base of this rather 'bunjin' or literati style bonsai lamp. I could immediately see the leaves of this deciduous specimen in fall color. They would eminate from stems exactly like the real tree! (And overlap too).

After several weeks at the foundry and more weeks of glass cutting, the lamp was finished and installed on the marble base. Kathryn's other idea was the frog. Kathryn said to me: "Daddy, why don't you put a frog near the tree as a little friend? It instantly occurred to me that the frog was going to be the touch sensor light switch! (the frog in a more scaled down version is available as an 18K gold brooch)

I later found that "The Art of Bonsai", a British publication was interested in my lamp through a UK bonsai friend, Mr. Joe Davies, and they offered an article to be published.

Each lamp takes approximately 40 hours to produce by hand and is individually unique and numbered according to its production.

I have an entire collection of 'art jewelry' that is not shown due to lack of space. I have received many awards for this pursuit over the years including the Geo P. Schuetz memorial, National Jeweler Magazine cover, and International Gold Corporation award.

Publications: 2001 Kansas City Magazine, photo article
1985 Birmingham Eccentric newspaper
1985 Executive Jeweler, cover
1976 Playboy magazine, photo article
1974 Birmingham Eccentric newspaper

Special Awards/Exhibitions
1994 Art Birmingham, Second award for painting
1983 International Gold Corporation
1979 Geo P. Shuetz National Design competition
1997 Art Birmingham, exhibition
1986,87,95 Our Town, Birmingham juried exhibition
1980 &81 Michigan Artist, Detroit Institute of Art
1982 Birmingham/Bloomfield Art Assoc. 25th anniversary show
1976 OUI Magazine Editors collection
1976 Detroit Artist Guild Best of show
1974 to present Mid Michigan, Michigan Annual, MI Artist
1970 Cal State, San Jose Permanent collection

Member of Laguna Plein Aire Painters society.
Recent member show: June, 2003

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