Dancing in His Bare Feet

John Bukaty premieres new work for Whitney White Linen Night

The art gallery scene in New Orleans has grown each year, as has our annual celebration of easy-to-stain-clothing, Whitney White Linen Night. On Saturday, August 6, stroll up Julia Street one block further than advertised to 841 Carondelet Street and you will be greeted with the work and personality of a huge talent.

John Bukaty, who owns the eponymous John Bukaty Studio & Gallery, will be participating in Whitney White Linen Night for the third year by premiering the collection “Grit & Grace: meditation in colors,” which is an evolution in his “NOLA Rain” series.

A NOLA resident for six years and a working artist and gallery owner for many years prior, Bukaty is known for live painting during concerts and music festivals. His idea for live painting originated while bartending and grew into invitations by musicians to capture their art through his. Constantly shifting his focus and building his repertoire of techniques, he has found success not only through his live paintings but also through his Ireland’s 33 collection, the pothole sculpture show, and his flag collection, where he interpreted the United States, Louisiana and Chicago flags, among others.

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The abstract paintings featured in this new series are created with a technique Bukaty has been working to perfect for years. His spirituality is expressed in the literal flow of his arm, brush and paint as the canvas is splattered to create the image.

During this splatter process, nothing comes into contact with the canvas but the paint. No brush or pen touches the canvas, making his timing, aim and paint viscosity all critical aspects to his technique. Also informing the process is the music he listens to while creating each piece.

“The process of this fits in my artistic path because it is outside the box,” said Bukaty. “The drum beat is the rhythm of the paint brush. I’m in total time with the music. I’ll control the color and the composition, but I’m tapping into something higher than myself.”

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Based on viewing some of his sample work in preparation for the show, the pieces will balance color and line. They will range in size and each express something unique but in harmony with each other. The collection will include 13 paintings and one sculpture. The gallery will be open for Whitney White Linen Night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

If you can’t get to town for August 6, the collection will be on display through October 31. And a visit to this space is one to add to your itinerary. The location is truly a working studio and gallery, with Bukaty’s work area in view even when the walls are hung for a show.

“There are no secrets here,” Bukaty said, “You watch me do it. You watch the rawness of the art. In my bare feet, I try to show the process to the finished creation. It’s like the open kitchen concept in a restaurant.”

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If you never lived with a painter during college or in an industrial loft with your best friends in your early 20s, you should really visit Bukaty’s space. To gain an appreciation for the final canvas, it is important to view the chaos that foreshadows the beauty. Bukaty offers a rare opportunity to see a fine artist at work — to smell the paint, hear the hammers and watch the metamorphosis.

He employs one full-time and two part-time assistants to run the business and help with his artistic process. As a working studio, it is not open to the public during regular hours, but you can always email in advance to request their schedule or make an appointment.

For more information on John Bukaty and his studio, visit johnbukaty.com. Details for Whitney White Linen Night can be found at cacno.org/wwln2016.

Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City.



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