“Hunt Country,” a comprehensive installation of Hunt Slonem’s signature paintings of bunnies, butterflies, tropical birds and orchids, runs from May 7 through June 5, in Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Leonhardt Galleries.
Through his paintings, sculptures, and printmaking, Slonem celebrates his subjects as hallowed forces of nature. Speaking of his work in his book When Art Meets Design, he wrote, “There’s a spiritual message behind everything I do, and I’m fascinated by nature and its purity. I’m endlessly mesmerized by patterns in nature, which is why I use so much repetition just as in nature there is repetition in blades of grass, the leaves of trees, and feathers of birds.”
A collector and curator of objects, Slonem embraces a practice he calls “collectorating.” Works in this installation will showcase this practice, including his use of antique frames that embellish his work and become part of the piece.
“Hunt Slonem is one of the most generous and popular artists in the contemporary art world, and I feel blessed to have been friends with him for decades,” said Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, a member of the Board of Trustees for both Berkshire Botanical Garden and the Whitney Museum of American Art. “His ability to transform any ordinary space into an extraordinary sensory event with his colorful artworks and carefully curated furnishings makes him a perfect fit for the ongoing Art/Garden series at the Berkshire Botanical Garden.
“Here at the Leonhardt Galleries, our exhibitions are much more than ordinary gallery shows; they are art experiences,” Cassullo continued, “and Hunt is the perfect artist to herald the beginning of the lovely summer months in the Berkshires.”
Among Slonem’s fans and dear friends are Beth Rudin DeWoody, the summer guest curator for Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Art/Garden series, and Matt Larkin, chairman of the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Board of Trustees.
“With his deep reverence for the natural world, Hunt Slonum’s artwork ties in perfectly with the mission of Berkshire Botanical Garden,” said Larkin. “He’s inspired by nature, by its beauty, its mysteries and its madcap and enchanting peculiarities, and that inspiration is contagious. We’re thrilled that our galleries will be enlivened by his work.”
Casullo notes that “Hunt Country” coincides with Slonem’s first full summer as a Berkshire resident. Indeed, last year, Slonem purchased the historic Searles Castle (originally known as Kellogg Terrace) in nearby Great Barrington, one of several palatial estates he has saved for the purpose of restoring.
An American Neo-Expressionist artist, Slonem has had more than 350 exhibitions at prestigious galleries and museums internationally dating back to 1977. His work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York; the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C.; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York, to name a few.
The Leonhardt Galleries are located at 5 West Stockbridge Road in the Garden’s Center House, considered one of the oldest structures in Stockbridge, and renovated in 2017 to include galleries, a botanical library, classroom, and teaching kitchen.
The gallery hours in May are 10-4 p.m. Admission to the galleries is free with Garden admission.