Destiny has brought us together! We had Hunt Slonem slated for today and nothing tickled me more than to find his birthday (July 18) is just 4 days after mine. Cheers to an American artist! Doing the Cancer community proud! In addition, I have a thing for finches and rows of them on branches just warm my heart. And dear old Hunt happens to be on exhibition at the Madison Gallery, here in my hometown of La Jolla. (Guess where I’m heading for my b-day?)
About Hunt Slonem
An active participant of New York’s art scene in the 70’s, Slonem rubbed shoulders with the likes of Andy Warhol, et al. Hunt Slonem was profoundly influenced by New York life and his work has been described as “the subtext of Manhatten” (Tama Janowitz). His self-proclaimed fascination with exotica drove him to paint birds and butterflies from his boyhood memories of Hawaii and Nicaragua. Embracing color, his oil paintings are layered with thick brushstrokes and are studies in both pattern and repetition.
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Birds of a Feather
Be sure to check out his largest work to date at the Bryant Park Grill behind the New York Public Library. The 6-foot by 68-foot mural is appropriately perched above the dining area of the iconic Manhattan restaurant. A lover of nature, Slonem has a personal aviary in his Brooklyn studio, which contains 30 – 100 birds of different species. He uses his aviary as a source of inspiration and often paints with one or two feathered friends on his shoulder. His bold use of color and the technical tricks he implements with paint give brightness and texture to his work. I love his paintings of birds hidden behind a series of scratch marks that pose as wire cages.
Butterflies in My Stomach
I’ve always had a thing for butterflies. When I was younger I used to sketch them on paper and they became my trademark for a short time in my youth. Of course, Hunt Slonem won my heart with collections of butterflies littering his canvases. His butterflies are aptly peaceful and coincide with his practice of painting as a form of meditation. I’m looking forward to seeing his painting, “Peace Plan” at the Madison Gallery. It is a combination of so many things that I love in one!
Rabbits Out Of His Hat
When Slonem found he was born in the Chinese year of the Rabbit (1951), his most critically acclaimed series was born. His so-called “Rabbit paintings” are now found in homes and museums throughout the world. In our article on vamping up small spaces, we came up with some great examples of using bold wallpaper in unusual ways. Go to Decorator’s Best for a variety of Slonem fabrics and papers that will cheer up any space stat. Want to upcycle an old cushion or chair? We also have an easy DIY on our reupholstering furniture feature. A little bit of an amazing print certainly goes a long way!
The majority of Hunt Slonem’s paintings are best enjoyed in full-blown maximalist fashion! However, the Rabbit paintings (especially) can be enjoyed in small doses too. Take a look at some of our favorite gallery wall ideas and consider adding a bunny or two to the mix. The carefree imagery and thick brushstrokes make his rabbits a wonderful addition to a child’s room or a nursery. Be sure to read our Feng Shui guide for enhancing children and creativity centers and add a Slonem rabbit or two to this center.
Chic + Modern
Finally, if you love modern art and furniture, check out the Hunt Slonem website for a gallery of his paintings and more information. You can even pick out your favorite bunny from the Bunny Wall! Happy birthday to a wonderful Neo-Expressionist artist who has captured the hearts of so many. What an extraordinary feat to be an artist and to do what you love for a living.