When thinking about cold Northern Michigan winters, certain things come to mind: snowy hills, slushy roads, snow sports, and snow days among others. However, hiding out in a cloud of spray paint by the heat of a propane tank is Chase Hunt making “street art.” Commonly, street art is understood as an outdoor, large scale form of art originating from the influences of graffiti, but has evolved into something different and accessible to a wider variety of artists and appreciation. Chase sees the art form as perfect for the Northern Michigan community, and has been received by people from all walks of life. He says that the area is awesome because of, “the level of appreciation that people in Northern Michigan have of all spectrums of art.”
Hip hop plays in the background while Chase and his friend collaborate on color choices and ideas for his most recent painting over the hum of his small propane heater. It seems like his art comes a little from creativity, a little from inspiration, and a lot from what is available. The boys laugh while shaking cans to find out which ones have enough in them for the next part of the painting. Chase explains that the kind of art he works with is representative of, “a generation of straight color where there is not a point of view untouched.” His tools and surfaces come from what he can find, and what is on sale at the Dollar Zone where they have random cans—if he uses a canvas; he makes it from any kind of cloth pulled tight over a frame.
During his day job at Brew in downtown Traverse City, Chase is lucky enough to have the support of his employers who let him be a part of their rotation of artists to display his work. He laughs, “My last painting didn’t even make it up, it was just sitting by the stairs and someone was interested.” Chase admits that Facebook and other social media outlets have changed the ways that his and other artists work is shown and distributed. It’s not all bad though because he sees a new kind of exposure involved. Chase explains, “Never underestimate what you can say or do with a painting.”
For a while, Chase and his fellow artist friends in the area rented out a warehouse to make art. It was called Evence Thestudiowhere anyone could rent out a space to make their own definition of art, collaborate with others, and promote the elevation of alternative art forms. The venture ended, but Chase really wants to continue the community efforts of an art society. He laughs, “And it would be really cool to have a clubhouse to do art.”
Chase grew up listening to hip hop and jazz, skateboarding and snowboarding, and going out in the middle of the night to “bomb” his name with his friends. He eventually used these influences to start making art that he explains is, “only limited by my imagination.” His art mixes vivid color, boastful shapes, interesting stencils, and careful composition. Chase draws his influences from other street artists like Banksy and Jeremy Fish, other artists like Salvador Dali, music, his past experiences and travels, and Northern Michigan. He says, “Traverse City is beautiful, and we are lucky enough to experience a full spectrum of seasonal influence.” ~Joanna Dueweke, Regional Director