My dear friend, Lorraine Gilligan, who is the Director of Preservation at Old Westbury Gardens in Long Island invited me to be on the Committee for their fund raising event in New York City at the studio and aviary of the artist Hunt Slonem. We haven’t spoken in eons so it was great to hear from her and I definitely was interested in participating on the Event Committee. Plus, one never turns down a cocktail party and a private visit to an artist’s studio.
I invited my friend, Amir Fayo, to join me for the evening. He is a successful Brand Architect and Strategist and has a serious interest in design and innovative concepts. Having a bit of an idea about Slonem’s studio, I thought he would enjoy meeting the artist and seeing his rather unusual humongous space.
If you are not familiar with Hunt Slonem here is a quick resume of his art from his web site:
“Bringing a freewheeling sense of awe, wonder and detail to his wild array of paintings and sculptures and peaceful, mystical living and working spaces, NYC based artist and lifestyle trendsetter Hunt Slonem is considered one of the great colorists of his time.
As vibrant a dresser (favoring bright jackets and ties) and decorator (known for his keen eye for refurbishing homes and pairing vintage furniture with contemporary art) as he is a painter and sculptor, the Maine born creative force of nature is well known for his neo-expressionist works of butterflies, rabbits and tropical birds, the latter often inspired by the 30 to 100 exotic feathered friends he houses at any given time in an aviary in his 30,000 square foot Manhattan studio. Slonem has had over 300 one-man shows in galleries and museums internationally. His work is also in the permanent collections of 250 museums including the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney, and the Moreau Foundation, and is part of private collections all over the world, including those of many celebrities.”
Slonem definitely has a unique style and is undoubtedly colorful, both in his art and living style. The mix of simplistic, repetitious and colorful contemporary paintings and sculptures into his taste for victorian decor is at first discordant but ultimately successful…especially when you meet the man. He is the rabbit, the butterfly, the bird and more so, and so full of creativity and personality.
As for the aviary in his studio, we were all warned not to get to close to the birds as they might bite. However, if they act as an inspiration for Slonem’s creativity, so be it. AND he has recently published a beautiful new book, “When Art Meets Design,” which is a great source for exploring and investigating more about the artist.
If you cant afford one of his oil paintings, well then treat yourself to some wallpaper of his infamous rabbits being produced by Lee Jofa. I happen to love this paper, but be prepared. These are definitely rabbits with an adult attitude and not bunnies!
As for Old Westbury Gardens, I highly recommend planning a trip to see the Gardens and the interior of the house/mansion on the property. The Charles II style house, designed in 1903 by George A. Crawly, is truly magnificent and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the former home of John and Margarita Phipps…google them for more info…and is furnished with wonderful decorative arts and fine English antiques. The Gardens which spread out among 200 acres, are really extraordinary.
If you take a quick peek at this short video to get a brief overview of Old Westbury Gardens you will not only be entranced by it’s charm and beauty but will learn than you have probably seen the mansion and property on the silver screen!
Ciao, ciao ’til next time!