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Alliance hosts first exhibition of David Hatchett’s work since his death on March 21


Just Kidding, The Art of David Hatchett opens in the Foulds Theatre lobby at the Alliance for the Arts on June 7th. It’s the first exhibition of Hatchett’s work since his passing on March 21 at the age of 75.

During a professional career that spanned more than five decades, David created a trove of unbelievably original and extraordinary paintings, sculpture, poetry, songs and novels. But his legacy is best measured by the lives he touched, the artists he inspired and the friendships he made and maintained.

David’s wife of 40 years and one great love, Lily, describes him like this:

“He was absolutely the kindest, most divine, beautiful, sweetheart of a man, and really talented, really quirky talented, the kind of talent where you know that you’re doing something extraordinary that nobody’s ever done before, and why bother making art that’s anything other than something that nobody’s ever done before, and he was just a natural at it.”

You can listen to the interview of WGCU or keep reading.

The couple met in SoHo one afternoon when Dave walked into a gallery where Lily was hanging a show all by herself. Although he’d come by to ask the owner for a spot in the show, Lily handed him a hammer and a ladder and put him to work. He was so magnanimous and gracious, Lily was intrigued. But she had an intransigent rule when it came to dating artists.

“If I was going to go out with an artist, and I thought the person was a lousy artist, I would not got out with him. I’d have to see the art first because I would eventually make some snide remark about the lousy art and then it would be all over. So why not don’t start.”

To the contrary, Hatchett’s art evidenced genius.

“He showed with Charles Coles Gallery, which is like Blue Chip. He had a show at the Albright-Knox Museum – probably one of the youngest artists to ever show at the Albright-Knox. He is in the JC Penney collection. He’s in a few good collections, matter of fact.”

Hatchett’s body of work defies categorization, but both his individual works and larger series evince a bright and uplifting color palette and wry, irreverent sense of humor. But it was his uncanny ability to draw inspiration from obscure sources that sets his work apart from that of his contemporaries. A large scale painting titled The Revenge of Tweetie Bird is illustrative.

“So one time when he was up in the attic at his parents’ house in Buffalo and pulled out a whole bunch of drawings that he did as a kid, which his mom and dad had saved, and he started looking through those and decided to redo all those kid drawings into giant paintings with a little touch of Photoshop and a little technique and all this stuff.”

While David and Lily occasionally collaborated, they continually inspired and brought out the best in each other. But there was one, tiny little problem.

“We did some extraordinary things, but we did forget to get rich and famous,” laughs Lily. “That aside, it didn’t stop us from being extraordinary anyway.”

Lily is still in the process of curating the pieces she’ll include in the Just Kidding exhibition in the Foulds Theatre Gallery. There will be wall hangings and free-standing sculpture. There will be both large-scale and more modestly sized paintings and watercolors. She is also contemplating hanging some of his poetry and playing some of his music in the background.

But clearly, this will also be an opportunity for those who knew and loved David Hatchett to reminisce about the man and his legacy during the 5:00-7:00 p.m. opening reception on Friday, June 7th.

Just Kidding, The Art of David Hatchett will be on display at the Alliance for the Arts through June 29th.


  • David received an MFA from Rutgers University.
  • He was one of the youngest artists to have a solo show at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Now the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Albright-Knox is the sixth-oldest public art institution in the United States.
  • After living in lower Manhattan SoHo lofts for more than 45 years, David and his wife, Lily, relocated to Fort Myers in 2007.
  • David’s wicked sense of humor, enthusiasm for life, his kind heart, goodness, and deep spirituality are embedded in his artwork and lasting legacy.
  • As noted, David’s art defied categorization. “If you’re going to be a free-form artist and not be forced into some niche that-this-is-what’s-going-to-sell kind of thing, then you really get to like explore your mind,” notes Lily Hatchett.
  • Please go to for more on David’s process and art.
  • David cites Eva Hesse as one of his chief influences. Hesse is one of the most renowned American artists to come of age in the immediate aftermath of The Abstract Expressionists. Having fled her native Germany during the rise of Nazism, Hesse was originally schooled in American abstract painting and commercial design practices. She originally pursued a career in commercial textile design in New York City, but Hesse’s practice as an expressionist painter led her to increasingly experiment with industrial and every-day, or “found” materials, such as rope, string, wire, rubber, and fiberglass. Reducing her means in the spirit of Minimalism, Hesse explored by way of the simplest materials how to suggest a wide range of organic associations, psychological moods, and what might be called proto-feminist, sexual innuendo. She also experimented with expressing semi-whimsical states of mind rarely explored in the modern era until her all-too-brief debut. Thus Hesse arrived quickly at a new kind of abstract painting, as well as a kind of so-called “eccentric,” freestanding sculpture.
  • When David walked into that SoHo gallery, Lily recalled that she had been introduced to him once before by the gallery owner. Nonplussed, she immediately blurted out, “Oh great, a man! That’s just what I need. I don’t want your mind. I just want your body.” Without blinking an eye, she handed him a hammer. She handed him a ladder. “I needed help hanging the art show. If some guy said that to a girl, she’d be horrified. But if a girl says that to a guy, he’ll never go away. So that was the beginning.”

June 1, 2024.

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