Bellow Falls, VT
Charlie Hunter stands outside and paints what he sees. Plein air is almost a sport you can compete with him some weekend. Some other weekend you can study with him to benefit from his review of how you paint what you see.You can buy a ticket to roll with him on a rail car someplace you could not otherwise travel to and stop on the tracks to paint what you see. What Charlie sees has to do with railroads and switching yards and the barns and fields that innovated like hell to compete with the big farms and markets that opened up to the west at the end of the 19th century.They were still in there swinging in our early childhood but fell in defeat as Charlie and I started adult lives.
If some more durable and local economy has begun around Vermont in its ruins Charlie has played a hand in that. He gives paintings to auction to keep movie night playing at the town hall. He works behind the scenes at the farmers’ market. He organizes an annual music festival for the other couple thousand fans of a musician which runs in the black with volunteers and brings hundreds of thousands of dollars to local food and hospitality businesses.
There is a theme here that makes intuitive sense to me. It may be the kind of extraneous personal detail of no present interest that helps a lecturer chat after we all are dead around the intrinsically commanding objects we call art.
Charlie stands outside and paints what he sees.The sun is shining, casting shadows, the barn is still standing on its way to falling down. Railcars rust while tractors and trucks weather. Charlie goes off to New Mexico once a year to paint trains and I still don’t know whether he means restoring the cars themselves or rendering them in oil as they fall apart. He works with sunny good cheer having the time of our life.