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On View: 'Life is not always Easy, Life is not always Fair'

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The watercolors were barely dry on some of his paintings when Doug E. L. Haynes hung them in the Ray Edwards Gallery at East High School, 2222 E. Washington Ave. “Life is not always Easy, Life is not always Fair,” the title and theme of the exhibit, helps unite strands of his work that viewers may find identifiable to their own lives.

“… I found this to be a productive vein of subject material,” Haynes said in his artist’s statement. “As the time for the show approached, ideas for new work kept popping into my head. I continued painting up until the day I hung the show.”

Using watercolors, pen and ink on most of the paintings, Haynes reflects upon politics, literature — including the Bible — and personal experiences.

Frustration with our current political climate spurred Haynes to create works that reference the 2016 election, Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate, net neutrality, the politicization of Facebook, and more. He says painting is an outlet for his anger.

In the past, Haynes has also used his art as a weekly meditation and completed more than 400 drawings on Biblical themes. A large woodblock print of Jonah inside the whale is included in the exhibit.

“When I first contemplated the subject of Jonah, I was tempted to include as many parts of the story as would fit on the block,” said Haynes. “… As I evaluated all (my)sketches they seemed overly complex. So I distilled it down to what you see here: a storm, a boat and Jonah in the whale.

I like that this story allowed me to depict nature in its fiercest state.”

Haynes is inspired by his personal experiences as well: the flood of 2018, a bout with cancer, and his daughter leaving the nest.

“One of my favorites in this category is titled ‘Empty Nest.’ I have a close relationship with my daughter,” Haynes said. “This fall she moved into the Lakeshore Dorms at UW Madison.”

“It will probably seem overly dramatic, but although she (is) about two miles away it seems like a world away. I decided to run with this metaphor and depicted Madison as an actual world with campus on one side of the globe and our home (near St. Mary’s hospital) on the other side. It was fun to include a number of Madison landmarks in that painting.”

A native of Madison, Haynes earned his bachelor’s degree in art at Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Mich., his bachelor’s in art education at University of Minnesota, and his master’s in English at UW-Madison.

An artist’s reception will be held 6 to 9 p.m., Dec. 7, in the gallery.

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