There is no need for too many words when you are as prolific and elaborate an artist as Jeff Huntington. Jeff is not the most verbose individual but he does not have to be because his art does all the expression for him. Jeff’s work is wide ranging, always in flux and ever evolving. There is no doubt that he loves what he does and also cherishes the fact that his style and technique cannot really be pinned down. Looking through Jeff’s paintings, there is a strong feeling of absolute hope and untainted expression that envelopes and uplifts the viewer. Jeff’s art is modern, fresh and unique and we are glad to be able to help bring it to a wider audience.
Artist portrait by Mike Paredes
"Recently, I painted a mural on a building that made reference to the cycle of death and rebirth through the use of a double portrait – a screaming injured nurse ..."
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I grew up in a house full of artists – my three siblings, my parents, and my father’s parents were all creative people making things. My father was a nurse in the army, so the family moved around – Japan, Philippines, Texas, California, Maryland, etc. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to emulate my older brothers, who were both gifted at drawing, painting and sculpting. The thought of being anything other than an artist never crossed my mind, except for a brief time during my childhood when I dreamt of being a professional hockey player – I grew up playing ice hockey.
My father was a nurse and worked the night shift at a private insane asylum. During the day he took art classes at tiny art school called The Maryland College of Art and Design. To offset tuition, he worked as the school’s custodian. He often took my siblings and me with him so my mom could go to work. Sometimes we helped him with his custodial duties, sometimes we worked as models for painting and drawing classes, and other times we made art. It was our own art school paradise. I began oil painting when I was 8 years old.
Later I attended art schools, earning a BFA in 1995 from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC, and then an MFA in 1997 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1998 I moved to NYC where I cultivated art world relationships. In 2002 I married longtime crush, Julia Gibb, who I met at the Corcoran 10 years earlier. Six months later we moved to Annapolis, MD where we currently live and work.
How do you describe your form of art?
My work has always revolved around portrait painting. The approach, materials, subject, and conceptual ideas are constantly in flux, ever evolving.
What does your art mean to you?
Simply put, my art is a necessity for me. It is how I identify myself on this planet. It is a source of self-discovery. It is my inquiry into values.
Your art seems to pay a lot of attention to optical variations and there is also a sense of vibrant but definite solitude – what are you trying to achieve with your work?
Lately, I have enjoyed combining multiple views of a subject or multiple subjects, often separated by a stencil or some kind of masking system. This creates the optical effect of seeing more than one image at a time. In this way, the portrait can be dynamic.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
Recently, I painted a mural on a building that made reference to the cycle of death and rebirth through the use of a double portrait – a screaming injured nurse painted from a film still from the 1925 classic, Battleship Potemkin, and a portrait of Buddha – intended to represent suffering and bliss. The local newspaper ran an online article about the piece and someone posted rant about how the work was disrespectful to all nurses (both my parents were nurses). The individual commenting didn’t seem to get it at all.
Which artist/s do you look up to the most?
Painter Francis Bacon and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
Along the lines of fashion, I think what defines a man is being totally comfortable and confidant in what one is wearing. When you possess those qualities, you are styling.
What is your personal life philosophy?
Be kind and open-minded.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
Hmmm… Roger Tory Peterson and Bob Marley. Nature is pretty cool, so I think Roger Tory Peterson would be a great guide while Bob Marley provides some good vibes.
How can people learn more about your current and upcoming works?
Buddha in the favela, 2015 - spray paint Sao Paulo, Brazil photograph by Moby
Agony and Ecstasy Live Together in Perfect Harmony, 2015 latex and spray paint Tsunami Sushi Bar & Lounge, Annapolis, MD photograph by Mike Paredes
Hendrix (in progress), 2015 spray paint Beco do Lira, Sao Paulo, Brazil photograph by Vermelho Steam
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