GALLERY ROOM 1
\ ə-ˈmyüz \
1a: to entertain or occupy in a light, playful, or pleasant manner
b: to appeal to the sense of humor of
\ ˈmyüz \
1: a source of inspiration
\ ˈməs \
1: a specific biological genus of muroid rodents, all typically called mice
Stuart Dunkel’s subject matter ranges widely – his works can be classified as still life, landscapes, or even genre paintings – but one quirky characteristic is consistent throughout… the presence of a little white mouse named Chuckie; his Muse. A muse is most commonly thought of as the source of inspiration for a creative artist – for Dunkel, he thinks of it as more of a “magnificent obsession.” But it is not just about what he is painting, as the artist says, “there is rhythm and harmony; my life has been dedicated to the pursuit of beauty.”
Dunkel, a world renowned oboist, turned his full attention from music to painting in the mid-1990s. Early on, much of his work focused on rendering various animals… that was until he submitted a painting of a mouse to a local gallery, where it found a buyer. Ever since, the mouse, which is in the biological genus Mus, has become the iconic feature of Dunkel’s work.
The mouse that inhabits his work is clearly autobiographical, but it resonates universally, sharing emotional experiences that range from delight to fear - usually with a twist of humor as well. The seemingly non-stop adventure that Dunkel’s mouse is on, allows the artist to keep a fresh sense to his compositions by developing endless narratives all in an attempt to amuse his viewers. As Dunkel puts it, “Chuckie is a problem solver. He meets life events with a goofy, glass half full attitude; and when the situation turns serious, he often glances out at the viewer in futility and disbelief. The true nature of my paintings is to reflect our human emotions through expression – those of being sad, mad, glad, scared and everything in between.”
Along Dunkel’s many explorations, his little white mouse routinely crosses paths an assortment of entertaining and odd characters; or stumbles into a kitchen and its enticing offerings; or is merely having some fun. His work has a way of connecting with viewers, oftentimes resulting in someone feeling as if the work was made uniquely for them. The artist takes a rather simple approach in showing us what he believes art should be – something amusing, beautiful and relatable.