An Exhibition of Art for Children ask the ARTSPERTS Kristine Meek and Juliana Meek

Kristine Meek and Juliana Meek

Dear Artsperts,
My grandkids are in town for winter break, and I would like to take them to see some art while they are here. They are in elementary school and preschool. Do you have any suggestions on where they could experience some art that’s age appropriate for them?

Art Seeking Gigi

Dear Gigi,

You and your grandchildren are in luck! This winter our own children’s museum: Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (C’MON) has a special solo exhibition of paintings and sculpture by world-famous artist, Hunt Slonem. Hunt Slonem’s Zoo is the title of the exhibition, which has been curated by William Meek and his daughter, Juliana.

Hunt Slonem (born 1951, Kittery, Maine) is an American artist best known for his “maximalist” neo-expressionist paintings of wildlife —most famously birds, rabbits and butterflies. Drawing inspiration from the spiritual and natural worlds, Slonem repeats these motifs on an epic scale in an act of visual and artistic mantra. Rendered through loose, gestural brushwork, his figures dissolve into rhythmic patterns at the edges of abstraction, creating symphonies of color, line and form across a highly textural canvas. He is perhaps one of the few artists in history to have been exhibited, within his lifetime, in solo exhibitions at museums and galleries on every continent, except Antarctica. This is, however, his first solo exhibition at a children’s museum.

While his collectors include sultans, sheiks, United States presidents, pop stars, actors, and athletes, his works can be found in hundreds of museums all over the world. Slonem paintings are in the permanent collection of museums ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manila, Philippines. The Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples has two works by Slonem in their permanent collection. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the largest children’s museum in the United States, purchased 110 paintings of cockatoos, toucans, rabbits, tigers, and luna moths by Hunt Slonem for their museum collection.

Slonem’s animal paintings delight and inspire viewers of all ages through his repetition of objects, his highly textured use of oil paints and his bold colors. His lifelong love of painting animals has included everything from ocelots and monkeys to birds and butterflies. Hunt Slonem draws on personal experiences from the world around him to inspire his paintings. Since his youth, insects including moths have fascinated him. Slonem lives with dozens of rescued and discarded exotic birds such as parrots, cockatoos and parakeets. He also has turtles living in ponds at his studio.

Hunt Slonem’s Zoo at C’MON is designed for you to talk with your child about his or her thoughts on a work of art. Ask your children to pick their favorite and least favorite work in the exhibition. Let them know it’s okay not to like a work of art and ask children to explain why they like or don’t like the work. On the Bunny Wall, you’ll find individual portraits of rabbits that are a perfect opportunity to observe differences between rabbit expressions and composition. Ask children what they would name each Bunny.

This exhibition is being provided by the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples, FL (est.1964-) which has previously lent Slonem exhibitions to over a dozen museums nationwide and has represented Hunt Slonem since 1996.

The Artsperts

FEATURED PHOTO; “New Line” by Hunt Slonem, oil on canvas, 30”x 40”, 2021. One of the works which will be on exhibit at the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples.

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