Museum librarian turns love of art into first-of-its-kind book
Robert Craig Bunch enjoys art of all kinds, but he has a particular fondness for pieces that incorporate found objects.
“It’s so fascinating because the pieces could come from literally anywhere,” said Bunch, who will speak at UHV on Oct. 14. “It could be something the artist found on the street, bits of wood, an item from a store or even bits of soap. And somehow the artist puts those elements together to create art.”
Bunch became so interested in found object art that he decided to compile a book of interviews with Texas artists. “The Art of Found Objects: Interviews with Texas Artists” was the first book to feature interviews with Texas artists who use found objects.
Bunch, an assistant librarian at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, will be the next speaker in the UHV Downtown Arts Series. He will project images of artwork featured in his book and share stories from the artist interviews at 7 p.m. Oct. 14 in the UHV Center for the Arts, 204 N. Main St. The event is free and open to the public. Copies of Bunch’s book will be available for purchase.
“Craig Bunch has a sincere appreciation for found object art, which is clearly evident in his book,” said Charles Alexander, UHV poet and designer in residence, and co-curator of the series. “I’m looking forward to hearing his presentation about the different artists he met and how their art was featured in the book.”
Alexander and Cynthia Miller, UHV artist in residence and series co-curator, met Bunch during Victoria’s 2016 Bootfest. Bunch and his wife came to the UHV Center for the Arts Bookstore during the event and started talking about artists, book arts and small presses in Texas.
“That’s when I heard about his upcoming book,” Miller said. “I love found object artwork. The possibilities for creative work are as wide as the artist’s imagination and abilities. It’s a real treat to have an author who is so knowledgeable in all areas of fine art present to our audience here in Victoria.”
When Bunch first started working on his book, he was attending gallery shows in the Houston area. He was able to interview three artists during that time, and one artist even walked him through the gallery show to explain his work.
“The quality of the answers I received from these artists was amazing,” Bunch said. “As I kept interviewing artists, each one sent me back such good interviews. It’s been an incredible experience.”
Bunch would meet with artists in their studios, which often were part of the artists’ living spaces. Afterward, he would email the artists a list of interview questions. Apart from some editing for readability, the artists’ unfiltered answers then were included in the book. There also were a few times when artists requested that he use a tape recorder and do the interviews in person.
“I preferred to send an email interview after the visit because I wanted to have the time to come up with some truly meaningful questions,” he said. “At the same time, I wanted to allow the artists time to really consider the questions and return with answers that best represented them and their work.”
The book took three years to compile. Bunch waited until he completed the interviews before searching for a publisher. He eventually published his book through the Texas A&M University Press.
At first, he didn’t know his book was the first ever of interviews with Texas artists who use found objects. Once he discovered that, he realized the importance of what he was compiling.
“It’s always exciting to be the first,” Bunch said. “This book has been a success in so many ways, and the journey to collect all the information and interviews with Texas artists has been a tremendous experience.”
For more information about the Downtown Arts Series, contact Alexander at 361-703-5147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All Initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student popular, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.