The famed Manhattan-based artist Hunt Slonem is in Austin for a grand showing of his art at West Chelsea Contemporary on 6th Street.

Slonem’s works grace the walls of such prestigious institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Some 50 art museums around the world hold his works.

In addition to his appearance tonight at the grand opening, he attended a VIP gathering on April 26.

In an exclusive interview for Sun News Austin, Slonem told me what inspired him to create an artwork of Queen Elizabeth.

“I think she was one of the great beings in our world. I miss her sorely. I saw her first at the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales, and saw her most recently at Ascot. All through my life I’ve had sightings of her. She just meant a lot to me as our Queen Victoria. I think about her a lot and don’t know that we’ll ever another presence that great: such a diligent public servant, and such a great symbol.”

At the event last night, Mr. Slonem was signing books that highlight two fundamental aspects of his artistic output inspired by the natural world: bunnies and butterflies.

The bunnies come in different forms. One wall at the gallery displays five blown glass busts in oval frames, a perfect idea for Easter decorating in the home! They list price for $12,500 each. Other bunnies are oil on canvas, oil on wood, neon sculptures and black onyx sculptures.

The largest of his butterfly works on display is a massive 93 x 133-inch work entitled Vanity Fair. An extraordinarily beautiful collection of colourful butterflies, it is pegged at $221,650. Other explosively-colourful works on display feature parrots.

And cat lovers will not be disappointed: Ocelots 16 Managua (48 x 60 inches) features eight ocelots on a silver background. A real stunner, it is $49,000, and is certainly on the Christmas wish list of my ocicat.

I encourage all art lovers to visit the WCC (my favourite gallery in Austin) for the opening tonite.

Further details can be found on the gallery website:

Lead Photo: Mr. Slonem with his book Bunnies, which he had just signed for Dr Cunningham

Bunny art is titled Totem Ruby Falls; Ocelot artwork below:

By Dr. Cliff Cunningham

Dr. Cliff Cunningham is a planetary scientist, the acknowledged expert on the 19th century study of asteroids. He is a Research Fellow at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. He serves as Editor of the History & Cultural Astronomy book series published by Springer; and Associate Editor of the Journal of Astronomical History & Heritage. Asteroid 4276 in space was named in his honour by the International Astronomical Union based in the recommendation of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Dr. Cunningham has written or edited 15 books. His PhD is in the History of Astronomy, and he also holds a BA in Classical Studies.