This is not the Vermont of fall leaves and covered bridges the tourists come to see, but the Vermont of abandoned Plymouths, lost industries and declining family farms. Charlie Hunter captures that everyday beauty with realism and sympathy, his eye eager for the telling detail, the unusual viewpoint, and the unexpected angle.
- ART NEW ENGLAND
Charlie Hunter's paintings present a different access point for emotional resonance. While his works function extremely well in relation to pure visual elements, there is also an implied narrative. Like a great character in fiction, each of these paintings has contrast and contradiction on multiple levels. The sepia tones give us the feeling that we're looking into the past, but a Toyota Tacoma tells us this is the present. And in this contradiction we're reminded of the distant past and our inability to escape from it. We feel a sense of nostalgia but with total absence of sentimentality.
These places, these objects, feel at first quite abandoned. There is a quiet you can feel. But then you notice fresh tire tracks in the dust. Someone has been here, but you don't know whom or why.
We're also invited to identify with these images in their universality. Rural, urban and every place in between has its inactive train tracks, or its boarded up apartment buildings, or abandoned warehouses. But Mr. Hunter's paintings take us from the universal and into the specific. Look at the missing window pane in "Bethel Depot" or the car door hanging open in "South Royalton Freight House." These are specific places with their own stories; and we are invited to step into them, or to dig up our own memories.
These paintings are simultaneously soft and crisp; through Mr. Hunter's flawless perspective and the accuracy of his shadows, we almost get an impression of photo-realism. But look for just a moment longer, and you see the grace of his brushstrokes, a feeling of haze, of human handedness. The technical skill is sharp, but the tenor of the work is as ethereal and mysterious and reverberating as our emotions and our memories.
- Christy Woods, ArtScope Magazine
Hunter's lines of perspective are so perfect that it's surprising to learn he paints en plein air. A viewer's first thought may be: These have got to come from slides. But Hunter is just that good - really a master landscapist. The spatial design of "Mill Street Railroad Signal" is particularly complex, as thin wires crisscross the vertical composition behind the perfectly drawn heavy hardware of the signal light. An expanse of low rooflines fills the lower third of the piece. Hunter describes his palette as consisting of "warm white, a cool white, unbleached titanium, Naples yellow, transparent red oxide and ultramarine blue." The paintings look much simpler, as if they are made up of raw-umber details described on pale yellow-white backgrounds. The chromatic richness of Hunter's actual harmonies imparts subtle variations of depth and atmosphere. "Farm and Sky" is nearly all atmosphere. Hunter employed wider contrasts in value for the tall, vertical painting, and, while it's not exactly more colorful than his other pieces, there's a wider delineation of warm and cool grays. That's quite effective for the subject, as a heavy thundercloud rolls over mountains and pasture on a warm summer's day. Hunter's largest piece in the show is the 48-inch-square "Closed for the Winter (Burlington Ferry in Snow Squall)." Silhouettes of the dock's port facilities sit atop a high horizon line, with curved tire tracks sweeping toward a vanishing point. The curves enliven and deepen the picture plane.
- Marc Awody, Seven Days Vermont
Charlie Hunter's work is simple and honest and straightforward and real. Nostalgic and monochromatic, Hunter's recent paintings of Vermont landscapes executed en plein air are on display at the Pine Street Art Works. With a sharp eye and a deft hand, Hunter presents those pockets of the countryside that subtly meld the contemporary with the past. Go-Go Marts sit beside rusting railroad bridges. Farmscapes evolve into factories. Slowly the viewer begins to map the strange combination of eras the modern Vermont landscape captures. So much of the work speaks of the past: the simple muted colors, the dedication to painting from life, the landscape as a subject matter. At the same time there are moments of the paintings that are unavoidably contemporary.
The layout of each painting is considered and designed. Hunter shows a dedication to composing a picture rather than simply recording what sits plainly in front of him. Many of the pieces could be album covers or book jackets, using design as a major element of their construction.
Hunter's facility with oil paint is obvious. Each work is painted with care and attention. Yet it is in the larger pieces that his ability to orchestrate the composition becomes evident. Where the smaller work sometimes feels packed and tight, the larger pieces expand beyond the canvas. Here the space of an environment becomes as much the subject as the structures that occupy it. Hunter presents a Vermont landscape that is sparse and beautiful, old and new, and filled, if not with physical objects, with the intangible feeling of passing time.
- Ben Finer, Art Map Burlington
Original work in many private collections, including those of Logan Mankins (New England Patriots), Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) and Susan Mikula (photographer), singers Dar Williams and Greg Brown, Jonathan Edwards College of Yale University, Phillips Exeter Academy, Coca-Cola Bottling, Northampton, MA. Annual commissions of Vintage Travel Posters for Preservation Trust of Vermont and Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society. Vermont Studio Center fellowships, Vermont Arts Council grants, etc.