Artist Spotlight Series: Hunt Slonem and Studio Tour

I am starting the 2015 Artist Spotlight Series with a boom.

In early December, I was afforded an opportunity of a lifetime.  

A Hunt Slonem studio visit has long been on my bucket list.  Luckily, it happened for me the day after the Kravet fabric launch party in New York. I walked into an unassuming warehouse to be transported into a magical place that I will never fully be able to explain.  The studio is just massive and filled to the brim with art, art, art and more art.  There is are sculptures, orchids, furniture, glass everywhere.  You then hear a squawking “hello” and see a central area deep in the studio where dozens of large birds wander in their huge cages and some freely in their immaculate habitats.

It is surreal and breathtaking all at once. Stendhal syndrome may be the perfect definition of how I felt among such greatness.

Enjoy getting to know this legendary artist.  I was blessed to spend an hour with him in the studio. 


Hunt Slonem

New York, New York


What is your training? 


 After completing school, which included living in Nicaragua as an exchange student when he was 16 years old, Slonem commenced undergraduate studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.


He then spent about six months of his sophomore year at the University of the Americas in San Andrés Cholula, Puebla, Mexico, but later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Painting and Art History from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He also took courses at the reputable Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpturein Maine, where he was exposed to such influential artists from the New York area as Louise Nevelson,  Alex Katz,  Alice Neel,  Richard Estes,  Jack Levine, and Al Held. During that period, Slonem altered the “i” to an “e” in his family name as a nod to numerology. He moved to New York in 1973 to further his art practice, and Manhattan had become his consistent base ever since. via


What inspires you and your designs?

Birds from Hawaii





“He’s drawn to the exotic birds, butterflies, and swamplands of the American South. “I would say my whole life could be summed up by the word ‘exotica, ‘” says Slonem, who owns two magnificent antebellum homes in the South and an aviary with some 30 parrots, some doves, and various macaws and cockatoos. Slonem’s birds are the stars of his dreamy, crosshatched, nearly abstract canvases.” via a wonderful Interview magazine article


What is your favorite piece? 


Mr. Slonem does not have a favorite piece per se but pieces from each period that remind him of the times in which he painted them.  He has moved his studio 5 times, . This massive studio has been his for 4 years and another move is on the horizon for Spring. 


How has the your area influenced your work?


He is more influenced by his inspiration such as “exotica” and his fascination with certain themes such as Abraham Lincoln. Mr Slonem told me fascinating stories of the séances that were held in White House by Mary Todd Lincoln, who was very spiritual yet not religious. She also was said to have foreseen his death with her psychic abilities.  


Read all about it in the book mentioned below. 


 What is your favorite restaurant in New York?


Slonem says he has no favorite restaurant but many favorite dinners hosted by close friends and chefs including Gary Danko, John Besh and many more 


What is your favorite cocktail?


 Slonem is a Diet Coke connoisseur. 


How do you balance personal life and work?


Mr. Slonem works on the balance as we all do. He has been seeing someone for the past 8 years. 


Dream trip?


 Hunt has had the pleasure of traveling the world many times over.  He would love to go back to a few of the places that continue to inspire them. These places include India,  Philippines Bird Market, Hong Kong to name a few. 



Dream commission?


Slonem is more interested in longevity in the art world vs. a specific commission. So many great were lost too early such as Haring and Basquiat.  

He has been painting and a working artist for his entire life.  His grandfather also painted while his father was an engineer in the military building Submarines.  Painting is in his innate makeup and he is amazingly prolific.  He produces over 20 original works on an average day in his studio. 


What is your most treasured possession?

Hunt does not have one possession but collections of many things that fill his many homes with gothic chairs, Belter furniture, Blenko glass.  As a cancer he is very attached to his homes, places and the history of collecting, tropic places such as Belize.  




 What are you reading?

 The Psychic Life of Abraham Lincoln



What are you listening to?

 Hunt is a fan of Billie Holliday


and many Blues singers such as Buddy Guy,


B.B. King,


and also the great Maria Callus



What are your favorite blogs / publications?


The Week


Hunt has a few vision issues that keep him off the computer for the most part. 
Enjoy a walk throughout the studio with me.  The large warehouse behind this drive through McDonalds (yes in NYC) is the studio.
the entry to the massive studio….
sculptures were abundant…
stacks of books and paintings….
The jungle of orchids and tropical flowers
Porcelain and furniture galore….
the infamous bunny wall…many ways
no fear of color…
my favorite bunny painting…
IMG_7448 IMG_7449
this angloindian piece was divine…
a massive mural…
IMG_7454 IMG_7455 IMG_7456 IMG_7457 IMG_7458 IMG_7459
I was particularly taken by this
HUGE painting of The historic Rexmere Hotel that Hunt Slonem was in he process of purchasing when it burned to the ground. Read the article HERE.
It was a great loss for him. 
oh I love these creature…
the working space…
more art..everywhere
humongous is not an exaggeration!!!!!
i adore a diamond dust bunny…
IMG_7482 IMG_7483  IMG_7485
the Abraham Lincoln mystical connection to Hunt is fascinating….
IMG_7495  IMG_7497 IMG_7499 IMG_7500 IMG_7501 IMG_7502 IMG_7503  IMG_7510 IMG_7505  IMG_7507 IMG_7508 IMG_7509
I hope you have enjoyed this wild and wonderful tour of the life and work of Hunt Slonem. Be sure to purchase his latest book
and many others HERE.  I treasure this book inscription
and my Diamond Dust Bunny painting. 

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  • January 5, 2015

    Thank you so much for sharing your visit Hunt Slonem’s enchanting studio. I drooled all over my keyboard. I’m so jealous of your visit.

  • January 9, 2015

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