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Hey, Dude: ten years of A.T. Hun

For guests planning to attend A. T. Hun Art Gallery’s Tenth Anniversary Party this Saturday, it’s not necessary to watch The Big Lebowski, the film by the Coen brothers. But it wouldn’t hurt.

Self-taught painter Chuck Hamilton and some partners opened A. T. Hun in 1997 after a gallery representing him at that time “kicked me out because they didn’t like my nudes,” says Hamilton.

A decade later, Hamilton is sole owner of the bustling, colorful space at St. Julian and Tattnall, anchoring the northwest block of City Market. The gallery represents about 25 artists “mostly from here or around here” he says.

Most of Hamilton’s nudes are long gone, replaced with more recent work. Much of the new collection reflects the artist’s abiding fixation with The Big Lebowski, starring Jeff Bridges as The Dude, Hollywood’s first unemployed, bowling, White-Russian-drinking hero. Hamilton’s oversized, dead-on accurate portraits of The Dude and his sidekick Walter (John Goodman) capture key scenes in the movie, while sometimes including an additional background character. Hamilton has painted himself into the background of several pictures.

Hamilton has seen The Big Lebowski over a dozen times, reeling off lines of dialogue as he tours customers through the back corner of A.T. Hun, where his paintings are displayed. He likes the Coen brothers’ truthful look at how people talk and behave.

“We say dumb things, we say vain things. Most movies’ characters say lines that are well-composed. I love Walter. He’s a good hearted person but he’s such a screw up.”

You might think that the buying market for Big Lebowski art would be slim, but in the span of an hour this past Sunday, three people walking past the gallery were lured indoors by a print of The Dude on display on the sidewalk. In less than ten minutes, a print was sold, wrapped and out the door. Details of a Lebowski painting sale were worked out with another buyer.

For Saturday’s anniversary party, guests are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite character from the movie. Hamilton will portray The Dude himself, complete with bathrobe, sunglasses, and Hamilton’s Dude-like “be here now” approach to art and life.

Door prizes will be given, including a Hamilton-made version of “Danny’s homework” encased in a Ziplock freezer bag, a movie prop that serves as a plot element.

In the movie the homework is a report on the Louisiana Purchase. Hamilton’s version is “like a book review about The Big Lebowski. I wrote it myself. It’s a 5th grade level essay. I must say I write at a 5th grade level anyway.” A computer scanned copy of the essay is collaged onto one of the larger paintings in Hamilton’s corner of the gallery.

During the party, a print of one of Hamilton’s paintings will be raffled, with proceeds donated to Hospice Savannah. Refreshments will feature “White Russians and bowling alley cuisine,” according to the video party invitation posted on the gallery website, which not only gives all the necessary information on the event but also serves as a bizarre and hilarious Big Lebowski primer for anyone short on movie-watching time between now and Saturday.

Gallery artists are working on Lebowski-themed pieces for Saturday’s celebration.

“I’m a bowler myself,” says painter Brian McGregor. “I’m working on two paintings for the show. One at Victory Lanes,” featuring some of his fellow bowlers at the Savannah alley. McGregor’s second piece is a dream-inspired painting linked to the movie, in keeping with the theme of his body of work, painted on collages of dream journal pages from friends and strangers.

For his contribution, pen and ink artist and painter David Gildersleeve is leaning toward a tribute to another Coen Brothers classic.

Raising Arizona I like a little better. The scene where Nicholas Cage is running with the Huggies, with the stocking over his head. That’s worth the price of admission right there. But, The Big Lebowski is a close second.”

Chuck Hamilton in the A.T. Hun Gallery in City Market

A.T. Hun Art Gallery Tenth Anniversary Party, Saturday November 10.

302 West St. Julian Street in City Market

6:30 to 7:30--Collectors Party

7:30 until Late--Anniversary Party

Free Admission.

Information: (912) 604-6148 or www.athun.com

Email Robin at rgunnsav@bellsouth.net.

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Robin Wright Gunn

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Connect Today 12.08.2016

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