In an artistic way, Peter Hunt’s father, Edward “Pa” Hunt followed in his son’s footsteps not long after he arrived in Provincetown in 1928. Peter brought his parents from Jersey City, N.J., to Cape Cod after he opened his antique shop on Commercial Street. Pa was frail and cranky, so Peter tried to encourage his father to take up a hobby, such as whittling or macramé. Pa would have none of it.
Pa, instead, took up painting in 1929. Rather than take anyone’s advice on what to paint or how to do it, he would go off on his own and meticulously daub the people and places he liked around Provincetown. The other Provincetown artists, who were beginning to develop their own Modern expressionist styles, took great delight in Pa’s works.
Soon, an art writer and collector named Sidney Janis, along with collector Hudson Walker, who summered in Provincetown, took Pa’s works to be exhibited in New York. Pa drew the same enthusiasm as other American folk painters beginning to exhibit in the city, including John Kane, Horace Pippin and Grandma Moses.
years after Pa first took up a paintbrush, he was the center of a one-man show
at the Times Gallery in New York City. The following summer, he was the focus of
a show at the Provincetown Art Association. Pa couldn’t understand all the fuss
over his works,
Pa died at home the following year, in 1934, at the age of 64 years.
When Sidney Janis decided to put together the first touring exhibition of American naïve painters in the United States for the Museum of Modern Art, called “Masters of Modern Painting,” he included two of Pa’s works. One of the paintings to this day remains in the collection of MoMA. It is titled: Peter Hunt’s Antique Shop.
Photo credit: Pa Hunt, 1934, They Taught Themselves by Sidney Janis, 1942
Copyright 2004 Lynn Van Dine