See the work of past students of Don Huntimer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I hope with all my heart that there will be painting in heaven.”
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot


Horses in full gallop are the subject of this painting by Father Don Huntimer,
a priest, painter and sometime-art teacher.

Inspiration, Religion go Together for Priest-Painter
Bonnie Henry
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 07.27.2005


Father Don Huntimer is in desperate need of wall space.

Galaxies swirl, horses gallop and flowers bloom across the length and breadth of his tiny apartment, located on the grounds of the Benedictine monastery on North Country Club Road near Speedway.

When he isn't conducting Mass at the monastery next door or performing prison ministry hither and yon, Huntimer, 76, can often be found on his patio, painting.

"I do my best painting when nothing else is bothering me and I can really focus," says Huntimer, who prefers the early morning light and solitude.
Over the last four decades, he's turned out close to 150 oil paintings, many given away, a few sold.

Still others can be found on display at the Downtown YMCA, as well as at Picture Rocks Retreat and the nearby Desert House of Prayer, 7350 W. Picture Rocks Road.

Then there are those, in postcard-like prints, decorating the walls of who knows how many Arizona jail cells.

"When I go to jails, I give postcards to the inmates," says Huntimer, who moved to Tucson in 1989 and got involved with prison ministry in state and local lockups. Sometimes the prisoners, perhaps inspired by his works, show Huntimer their own artistic attempts.

"I try to encourage them in terms of creativity, whether it's art, music or even writing a letter. It's never too late to start." He should know.
Born in Madison, S.D., and ordained in 1959, Huntimer taught school for years in the Chicago area. His passion for painting began almost 40 years ago, after seeing a painting in an art gallery he loved but couldn't afford.

"Why not paint your own?" the owner of the art gallery asked him.
So for a year he took lessons. Even so, he calls himself "self-taught."
"Anybody can paint," he says. Jan Prendiville bears testimony to that. About six years ago she became friends with Huntimer after hearing him at one of the three weekly Masses he celebrates at the monastery. Not long after, Huntimer told her, "You know, Jan, let me teach you how to paint."

Prendiville's answer: "Really?" Before long, she was meeting her teacher for lessons twice a week on his patio. "Since then I've done two paintings every summer," says Prendiville, 56, adding that her friend has taught her more than technique. "He's taught me how to appreciate what's around you and how it can be seen from such different perspectives by everybody."

No doubt about it, Huntimer's artwork has given him a more painterly eye. "When I see the forest, I see it differently now," he says. And while he may have originally longed merely for a painting for his wall, Huntimer has learned over the years to view his art in a different light as well. The process, he says, is more important than the finished product. "It's getting in touch with our creative spirit."

Many of his paintings glorify nature, vividly capturing everything from wild geese to Arizona sunsets. Few, however, appear to be religious in nature - at least to the uneducated eye. But Huntimer says good art "can be a transformation of consciousness and it can elevate one to a religious plane of wonder, awe and reverence."

Throwing his arm in the direction of one of his oils - a large rendition of the galaxy Andromeda swirling through infinity - he asks, "If that's not religious, what is?"

Bonnie Henry's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Reach her at 434-4074 or at bhenry@azstarnet.com or write to 3295 W. Ina Road, Suite 125, Tucson, AZ 85741