May 19, 2022

Charlie Doodle

Unique Art & Entertainment

Artist Peter Tunney’s latest works focus on wrongful incarceration

6 min read

MIAMI, FLA. — Spend a little time with world-renowned Neo-pop artist Peter Tunney and you are likely to hear an impassioned elucidation on the evils of wrongful incarceration.

“Back hole, solitary, death row, they took your family and your kid,” he said. “That’s a lot to take from someone for no reason. It’s really intense, soul-crushing stuff going on 24/7 to an innocent person.”

If Tunney sounds angry about the subject, it is because he is. He’s irate enough that his latest paintings, “Liberty” and “Grattitude” are focused on the injustice and suffering that result when innocent people are sent to prison.

“I talk about this every day of my life because it bothers me,” he said. “P.S.: When the innocent guy is in jail, generally, the murderer or rapist is free. That’s a double-whammy. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

On the surface, the topic of wrongful imprisonment might seem a world away from the inspiring art that rocketed Tunney to fame when in 1987 he decided on a whim to re-brand himself from an investment banker. 

“I’m going to be an artist now,” he said he told his friends with no plan and “for no apparent reason.” 

He figured it out, and today, the brightly colored words or short quotes he paints over emotionally stimulating images from newspapers, magazines and books tend to evoke optimism and hope with simple, yet powerful truths. 

Peter Tunney has a studio at Wynwood Walls in Miami.

But look more closely at his art, and you will find a story — usually many stories — in the strategically placed headlines and photos underneath the words layered on top.

“I want you to be able to look at it for 20 years and find new stuff,” Tunney said. “Because it’s so graphically successful, it’s so dense with information, and it’s so overwhelming to the viewer.” 

Now, in two new pieces, Tunney, 60, seeks to evoke emotion and support for those wrongly imprisoned.

In partnership with USA TODAY Network, Tunney has created two paintings to raise money for the Gannett Foundation and The Sunny Center, which is dedicated to healing the emotional and mental trauma experienced by exonerees.

Peter Tunney's "Liberty." Tunney created the piece in conjunction with USA TODAY to raise awareness about issues surrounding wrongful incarceration. It is one of two unique pieces that will be auctioned to raise money for the Gannett Foundation and The Sunny Center.

One piece is a five-foot-by-six-foot painting entitled “Liberty,” a word that Tunney said is “the crux of wrongful incarceration.” It will be auctioned to the highest bidder, and one NFT — or non-fungible token, which is a unique digital work of art that use blockchain technology to establish proof of ownership — will be sold. 

There will be 500 NFTs sold of the other painting — a four-foot-by-six-foot piece entitled “Grattitude,” which is spelled with two t’s, as in the inseparable concept of “attitude.” 

It is something exonerees tend to have in abundance, Tunney said.

“If you can do 34 years in max and come out and tell me you’re the most grateful guy in the world, we should be listening to that person,” he said. “Cause he’s got it. He’s figured it out.”

Peter Tunney's "Grattitude." Tunney created the piece in conjunction with USA TODAY to raise awareness about issues surrounding wrongful incarceration. It is one of two unique pieces that will be auctioned to raise money for the Gannett Foundation and The Sunny Center.

In keeping with the theme of Tunney’s passion, USA TODAY Network provided the artist with about 700 articles from some of the hundreds of Gannett papers nationwide. Each touches on the issue of wrongful incarceration or the concepts of liberty or gratitude. 

To create the works, Tunney minimized and reproduced about 100 headlines, photos and print columns for each piece using gel glue to secure the miniatures to canvas stretched over durable metal frames. The images were then sealed with gloss medium and overlaid with vinyl lettering.

Neo-pop artist Peter Tunney works Nov. 12 on one of two pieces he created in collaboration with the USA TODAY Network to raise money for the Gannett Foundation and the Sunny House.

Mixing paint on paper plates, Tunney then swished colors across the canvas, occasionally applying pressure with his brush or dabbing a spot with a thick roll of paper towels to thin the paint, and thus spotlight certain parts. 

He finished by splattering white paint across the pieces and signing them by removing paint with the butt of a paintbrush before letting them dry and then sealing them with 10 layers of transparent gloss. 


https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/entertainment/2021/11/22/artist-peter-tunneys-latest-works-focus-wrongful-incarceration/8636365002/

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