On exhibit at Central Branch Library, June 2017.
Though a resident of the Arlington area, I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia.
That was long ago when: The circus elephants would walk down our street on the way to the fairgrounds; the ‘Dogwood Festival Parades’ would begin in the neighborhood (but were required to stop before entering the University of Virginia); radio and televisions weren’t common; phones were on party lines, we spent much of our time catching lightning bugs; played games like ‘Red Light – Green Light’, ‘Tag’, and ‘Swamp Fox’; people heated with coal; had no air conditioning; cars were $500 to $1000 dollars; and many people took the bus or walked.
I suspect my mother, a country school teacher, was my inspiration. She was the first to notice my interest in art (it certainly wasn’t my father – a taxicab driver). She also painted a dead tree in her yard. One summer she gave me some index cards and encouraged me to doodle. I became enthralled with the beauty of the sunrise and would get up everyday just to ‘paint’ the morning sky on index cards – with colored pencils.
Much later in life, I worked for a Government agency and started a recycling program in our building. I came home one night and thought ‘what can I do better – to recycle at home’? I was intrigued by how much waste we create; and noticed that ‘junk mail’, in particular, was the glut of our ‘throw away material’. So, about 25 years ago, I started playing around and made paper mache out of the junk mail that I received. That became my art; and I ‘embellish’ it with other ‘used or throw-away items’.
My friend came home one evening and saw my first creation – the response was not overwhelming:
“I think you’ve been alone too long….”
The comment was funny; and hopefully…keeps me ‘grounded’. I suppose that is one reason my artwork navigates between the sacred and the profane. Though some pieces have a more serious meaning, most are capricious – or simply something that struck me as being beautiful, funny, or ‘peculiar’. So…does that make me an artist – or simply someone who enjoys doing art – (the proverbial ‘two-cents’ observation)?
‘Peculiars’ or ‘trash trolls’ – which I do occasionally; and which basically started in this library – are whimsical pieces that started as ‘kid doodles’ – and probably have something to do with – well, god knows. I will say simply that my best subject matter is found by looking in the mirror. However, I must believe there are things – call them ‘Peculiars’ if you want – that cause all of us to have days that seem like we are in ‘three quarters time’.
Johnny Hunt’s favorite artists include: Theodor Kittelsen, Antonio Gaudi, Norman Rockwell, and Andrew Wyeth. His oil painting is titled: “The Peculiar Seventeen Year Dance of the Cicadas”. A percentage of the profits are always donated to a non-profit agency of his choice (For example the ‘Make a Wish Foundation’, ‘Wounded Warriors Project’, or ‘The Nature Conservancy’).
Want to buy something you see on our walls? Artists contribute 20% of sales made during their exhibit to the Friends of the Arlington County Public Library, to help support Library programming.