I’ve been told that I need to write a bio, and that “visual artist living and working in the middle of the desert” will no longer do. So here’s this:
I’m a strange man. People often look at me and say, “There is something wrong with that man”. Though I don’t actually hear them say this, I know it’s happening. They say it with their eyes. They’ve been saying it for as long as I can remember. My girlfriend agrees. “You’re a very strange man”, she says. She doesn’t mean it as a compliment. It isn’t the charming kind of strange. There is something wrong with me. I have trouble performing many simple, everyday tasks. I don’t know how to drive a car, and have never had the desire to learn. I don’t really know how to tell time with an analog clock. I own seven of the same outfit so that I can appear to look exactly the same way every day. All black, all the time. I’ve not willingly seen my own reflection in over 3 years. I have issues. These might be viewed as handicaps by some, and in fact, once upon a time, they were. People didn’t expect much from me when I was a kid. I was thought to have been destined for a life of hosing down parking lots as the obligatory “special needs hire” at the local fast food joint. And they might have been right…
…if not for the fact that I have a talent.
My name is James B. Hunt. The B stands for Bryan. I was born in June of 1972, in Southern California. I remember drawing at a very young age, and knowing that it meant more to me than it did to the people around me. My father must have picked up on this. He used to sit me down at the kitchen table and tell me to draw pictures of the characters in the TV Guide ad for The Art Instruction Schools. I’d sit there and draw them until I got them right. Cubby the Bear and Tippy The Turtle. I began to draw them compulsively. They would often turn up in my other drawings. Drawings of elephant stampedes, drawings of elaborate crucifixion scenes, drawings of mer-men swimming around in planet earth-shaped goldfish bowls. Cubby the Bear and Tippy the Turtle were right alongside them.
My family migrated to Mesa, Arizona while I was very young. I attended a private school in Central Phoenix until high school. It was a depressing little school, and may or may not have been a cult, depending upon whom you ask. Most of the other students were Dutch farm kids, which didn’t make any sense to me, because they all had dairy farms in other counties. The bus rides home were torture. While I hated every second of my time there, I owe the school a debt of gratitude, because it helped me understand what I wanted to do with my life. When I was in sixth grade, a guy came to our school and gave a lecture about the dangers of subliminal messages in advertising. He showed us pictures of magazine ads with the word “sex” embedded in ice cubes, genitalia hidden in cake frosting, ghosts and skeletons floating around in clouds. And he was right. They were all really there. The other kids in my school were horrified, but I fell in love immediately. I became obsessed with magazine ads. I collected every magazine I could find around the house, and began combing through them, tearing out the pages, hanging them on my walls, looking for the subliminal messages. Sometimes, I would hide my own messages inside of the already existing messages, hoping others might find them. One day at school, a teacher found me thumbing through a magazine during recess, and asked what I was doing. I told him all about the subliminal messages, and pointed them out to him. At first he was shocked and amazed, and then he realized that he wasn’t supposed be, and took my magazine and escorted me to the principal’s office, where I was reprimanded for doing what the guy these fools booked for assembly two weeks earlier taught me to do. That’s when I came upon two life-changing revelations:
1: I’m surrounded by idiots who will never, ever understand me.
2: Imagery is dark magic. When I grow up, I want to use it to control and manipulate minds.
And when I grew up, I went to graphic design school, where I learned to do exactly that.
I’ve been living and working as an artist in Tempe, Arizona for about the past twenty years now. I had my first non-student show at The Alwun House in the mid 90’s. I had a hard time finding my voice in the early years. I was caught in a trap that many artists find themselves in, a trap that I like to call “realism prison”. I was a capable draftsman with the ability to make imagery that looks like its subject matter, but I didn’t paint with a hand that defined me. I struggled with this for quite some time, and then one day, I was in a friend’s car, and she played me a Current 93 CD. This music rewired my brain. In an instant, I knew I had been doing it all wrong. I went home that night and cranked out five new paintings, all completely different than what I had been doing. This was the work that would eventually define me as an artist, and does so to this day.
I hide my art all over the city. I’ve been doing it for about a decade now. I do it because it’s fun. Art is more than just a thing that I do. It’s my lifestyle. I’m not sure I’ve ever gone more than two hours in my life without drawing or painting, with the exception of sleep, obviously. I do it while I’m eating, while I’m reading, while I’m watching TV, when I’m on the bus. I once built a drawing table for the handlebars of my bicycle so that I could sketch while sitting at red lights. That didn’t work out so well.
My influences are many, and include Boyd Rice, Genesis P-Orridge, Austin Osman Spare, Ivan Albright, David Tibet, Douglas Pearce, David Koresh, Adam Parfrey, Jack Kerouac, Edward Ka-Spel, Jhonn Balance, Peter Christopherson, and about a hundred others that seem to escape me at the moment but will probably come to mind immediately after publishing this.
Download the EP for free by clicking here:
Strange Conversation + NXOEED present: Operation Dark Star, May 10. Limited edition Singles and EPs. Covers are original paintings by me. Music available for download, 100% free. Hard copies will be available for a limited time on cassette and reel-to-reel for 35-50 bucks. Ten of these will be hanging on a random alley wall in the greater Phoenix area, free for the taking. Watch http://NTNGlobalSystems.com/ for clues.
Had an envelope and twenty minutes to kill while waiting around at the ASU memorial union tonight.
From The Phoenix New Times Website:
“New Times and Chambord have joined forces to bring attention to local artists’ work. The top artists in this program will receive a three month showcase of their work in the New Times print publication, online and on New Times racks.
We collected over 150 submissions in three categories from those artists looking to get involved. The categories are - urban art, abstract art and photography. A committee selected 15 artists in each category which were put up to a publicized, friendly vote.
The top 5 artists in each category as voted by New Times readers have now been announced and can be viewed by clicking on the buttons to the left! They have the opportunity to show their work in an exhibit hosted by New Times and Chambord in various Scottsdale galleries in November, December and January. These shows will support a final reader vote leading to the selection of the winning artist in each category.
These three artists will be provided with rack cards showcasing their work on hundreds of New Times racks. These same artists will also receive ads promoting their work in New Times and the opportunity to have the work featured as an “alternative cover” for one week in New Times.”
So, I made it into the top five in the “Abstract” category. We had our show at the Method Gallery on Marshall Way in Scottsdale just a couple of nights ago. It was fun. If you could click on that link and vote for me, that’d be great.
The book consisting of pages from my sketchbook has been scanned in and is now online. We’re limiting copies to 500, hardbound and signed. 35 bucks each, but I’m going to make the ebook version available at no cost, just as soon as I can figure out how to make one of those things. Until then, I’ve uploaded the pages onto my Flickr account, and you can see high-res images of them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/csotys/sets/72157631733257205/
A painting I did. See it First Friday @ The Lost Leaf in Downtown Phoenix. Photo courtesy of Erin Goldbach.