Recently I had the opportunity to visit the artist Hunt Slonem's studio with fellow American Friends of the Israel Museum (AFIM). Slonem is an internationally renowned Neo-Expressionist artist who is most famous for his paintings of bunnies, tropical birds, insects, and Abraham Lincoln.
A few months ago Slonem relocated his studio from Hudson Yards, New York to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and we were the first group to tour the new spectacularly colorful space. Slonem is an avid collector of art and antiques and the studio displays just a portion of his collections of Neo-Gothic furniture, top hats, marble busts, and blown glass.
Slonem generously spoke at length with our group and he was fascinating. He grew up in a military family, moved around frequently in his youth, and studied in Nicaragua, Mexico, and New Orleans. His works are heavily influenced by his travels and interest in spirituality.
In addition to scouring flea markets for antiques, Slonem loves restoring historic houses that are at risk of demolition. He owns six properties, including two historically significant plantations in Louisiana.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the studio was the aviary in the back, housing at least 65 birds. Many of the birds were given to Slonem by families who inherited them and were unable to care for them. Slonem has employed the same caretaker to feed the birds for over thirty years.
Slonem had rabbits as a child and has been painting them since discovering that he was born in the Chinese Year of the Rabbit. My favorite paintings were from his Diamond series and feature his iconic bunnies outlined in glistening diamond dust.
It was a delight to meet Hunt Slonem and his studio was one the most visually interesting places I have ever seen. For more information on the artist, please visit his website at www.huntslonem.com.