Funny Money Shakes The Art World

Peter Tunney is truly an artist to experience. When you engage in one of his works, you engage a passionate history that speaks volumes. He is recognized as a prominent artist, social and creative. His mediums are mixed: cutouts, silkscreens, new media, visual nuances and sayings that construct his own framework and a distinguished technique. Resourceful, creative and succeeding, Tunney has been diligently creating his body of works since the 80s – 1987 to be exact.   These creations one might say “tweet” back at him. As Tunney discussed with me he is more about cherishing the physical mediums vs. the gigs and terabytes that connect us today. The beauty of most Tunney paintings is that they actually convey his appreciation for all those who would come and spend a moment chatting. They are works now that adorn some of the hippest clubs, buildings and restaurants owned by Tunney collectors nationally and internationally who share his vision.

Born at Georgetown University hospital, Tunney has journeyed beyond most cultural walls. Stints have been from college in Albany to the various terrains of Tanzania.   His scrapbooks (100 or so) that he created while working alongside Photographer Peter Beard act as one of many points for Tunney to reflect. After parting ways with Beard in 2002, Tunney expanded on his own to create his breathing stream in fine art.

Peter Tunney Experiment

Some of you may not have realized that you were looking at a Tunney – let alone passing him on your way to work. In 2008, Peter found himself doing what he does best in the same NY office building as the former Mayor Giuliani, hedge-funders and financiers whose walks are along some of luxury retail’s premier boulevards – that being 5th Avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets.  In Tunney’s keen sense this also was a main route to MOMA.  The formal experiment came to an end in 2010 and is the basis for the “Experience.”


Wynwood Mural from Art Basel 2012

One of the many murals in Wynwood’s Graffiti Park


Being off the beat and path is a pleasure for Peter. When not in New York City, Wynwood’s Graffiti Park has become his home. The energy of the park makes it an appropriate haute for Peter – block after block have become amazing demonstrations of the art. The developer known in the area, Tony Goldman, who re-energized South Beach along with various locals in New York City – one being Soho, has changed a fairly barren, cinder block neighborhood into a culturally significant interplay of form meeting function. Each mural has garnered the respect of the community. Gangs have left the walls unmarked and untagged because the works are so mesmerizing. This past December the park’s blocks were jammed with one artist after another eager to mix their marks on any patch of an available wall. In the middle, between restaurants and conversations, sits Peter’s GPS – the studio. You may notice it from the faint trail of Tunney’s latest enjoyment: a lit Cohiba.  Stand in the studio and find a select body of works that will unquestionably evoke your emotions. Before you know it, Tunney will have made you chuckle, as only great fine art paired with the fine, can. And then Tunney appears.

It’s funny when you think about Tunney. His words have turned into actions. His fine art has been inspiring for more than a quick laugh – since 1987. One of my first nights, a few years back, in New York off of Orchard street, was spent with friends Jose, Red and Jack. As I peered up, some words lifted me. They did so from a red lacquered canvas.   I shared a photo with a friend on my crackberry. They missed the meaning being educated in the classic, ESPN mindset –“ yah, so?” They were looking at “Nothing Happens Unless First A Dream.”

Paper Skulls from Tunney's Skull Session

Works from Peter Tunney’s Skull Session

A week before his next New York show, Skull Session, his 16 plus hours daily creating, concocting, envisioning a next great work have yet to become a chore.  His pop status remains on an upward trajectory.    “The skull is a symbol of our mortality and a common thread that ties every single one of us together. What is so intriguing is that there is a history to each and every skull. They are magical, transporting touchstones of all humanity…And indeed, Tunney’s skulls are boldly graphic, smart, and palpably infused with the artist’s signature sense of joie de vivre; each piece telling a different story about life’s complexity and ultimate simplicity after all is said and done.”

Tunney’s art “boomerang” with the skull is clever and compelling: each links to portions of his vintage dictionary.  These aren’t just words – they drive a qualified response.

September 2011 Opening for Tunney

Collectors and fans view Tunney’s Collection at his Sept 11, 2011 New York opening.

Seriously consider his body of works for the pop/graffiti/mixed media portion of your collection. His next sell out show will be in New York City at the Clic Gallery (255 Center St.).  RSVP for either the March 14th or March 15th, 6 to 10 pm event and ensure that you obtain one of the main works.  For those into books as a collecting habit, Peter will sign and dedicate the new limited edition book – Skull Style: Skulls in Contemporary Art and Design.   If you have any question on who he is, and I hardly think you will – look for the guy reading a great American novel with lights on his glasses reminiscing about the sullen swoosh of the waves hitting the Atlantic shores.

Author: Mason Hayutin

Founder, Editor and contributing writer, Mr. Mason Hayutin is recognized for his depth of experience and knowledge in technology, energy economics, real estate and the arts (fine and visual). Having worked with recognized world-class artists and their estates since 1997, Mason brings a wealth of practical experiences from installations, marketing, and private sales. An active business advocate, he successfully released the fine art documentary film LUBIE LOVE in 2009 ahead of the global auto crisis - in addition to maintaining his tenure at GALLERY M INC. Hayutin holds a degree in Economics from Washington University in St. Louis. He is the founder of MASONmodern, a boutique real estate firm based in Denver, CO. You can read his insight here at The Art Quarterly as well as in regional and national publications.

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