In August of 2012 Susan was in Sag Harbor helping with Lanford Wilson’s Estate. I repurchased one of Chris’s paintings from her and when I picked up the painting she gave me a three page handwritten recollection of Chris which is transcribed here:
“Chris Haile was of the most amazing and sensitive human being I have ever known. Everything he touched he turned into a work of art, and it then became such a part of him he couldn’t bear to part with it. That is the reason he never wanted to sell anything. It was too much a piece of him and how could he sell a piece of himself, as he would say.
His art always had a distinct and recognizable look. His figures looked as if they were from the same family. His shadows and the way he captured light had that special look and depth that was his alone.
He was a compassionate person always able to walk the mile in someone else’s shoes. His face was full of light and there was always a twinkle in his eyes.
I knew him for about 10 years and never did I see him angry. He gave himself in any way he could afford. His total lack of ego was surprising, especially for an artist.
He had a most unusual take on life; he was a man of social justice and not trusting of government. Long talks well into the wee hours of the morning To be captivated and wondering if Marxism or socialism was the root of his thoughts on human society.
He was soft-spoken, not afraid to disagree or debate philosophies and always was steadfast and consistent about the way he saw things – Which I feel comes through his artwork. You can recognize Chris’s work because of that – Is the vision and the way he felt about life didn’t waver. He was not a crowd pleaser – He danced to the beat of his own ability and was so happy to do so. If one disagreed or try to argue a point, he would merely reply with a gleaming smile.
He didn’t expect anything of life and walked away from what he did and accept as being right for everyone. He lives his life with absolutely no compromises – No matter what that meant to his well-being or his comfort.
I feel he lived for his art – to create and to feel whatever was put before him, and that always manifested into a painting or totem.
His individualism was quite unique, because his principles could not be tampered with. It was strong yet soft. But he couldn’t be swayed or talked into anything. You couldn’t change his mind, yet he was always kind in any aversion he may have had.
Chris was an original and because of that he is dearly missed. Knowing him was a great joy keeps such positive memories whenever I think of him.
To see his artwork, to really look into it, reveals to me all that is kind and good and sane in life because that is the way Chris saw everything.
If it wasn’t good, he wasn’t there. He was a walking, talking symbol of peace and harmony and strength of human spirit. No compromises, no nonsense; only truth and purity of heart – that was Chris Haile – like no other I have ever known.