by Jim Hoobler, Senior Curator, Art & Architecture, Tennessee State Museum
Artist Bio: Hunt Slonem
New York-based painter and sculptor Hunt Slonem works with both the human form and creatures in the natural world. He briefly studied at Vanderbilt University but found the Nashville of the 1970s to be not to his liking and transferred to Tulane in New Orleans. The color and vibrancy of that city suited him more. Several years ago he purchased two Louisiana antebellum plantation homes and restored both of them. His art reflects his interests with tropical birds, butterflies, ocelots, monkeys, saints of many religions, and people that he channels through mediums, like Rudolph Valentino and Mary Todd Lincoln. He is represented by galleries all over the world and is constantly traveling all over the country and the world for gallery openings.
For more information visit www.huntslonem.com.
In 1997 Lois Riggins-Ezzell asked me to go to New York to meet Hunt and to put together an exhibition of paintings by him. The Tennessee State Museum hosted a showing of 70 of his works. I showed him around Nashville, and we became friends. Over the years he has donated 24 paintings to the museum, and I have been able to select all but one of them. The heavy impasto, bright colors, and exotic themes are something that I find quite appealing. One of my passions is architecture, and I particularly love the two William Strickland buildings in our city. I lobbied to have the Capitol restored in the 1980s and have been involved in each project there since then and also worked on Strickland’s other building, the Downtown Presbyterian Church. So when the Capitol was approaching its 150th birthday, Lois had the idea to ask Hunt to do a painting of it. We called him and he agreed to do it. I also asked him to do a version of the Neagle portrait of a young Strickland for us. He agreed to that as well. When the crates were about to arrive, Hunt called me and said that there would be a third crate and that the portrait in it was a present for me. It was of William Strickland at the time he was working on the Tennessee Capitol. It hangs in my living room beside the front door, so I can see it every day as I come and go. It is a reminder of my love for the architect and his work and of my friendship with Hunt.