It’s not unusual in the Lowcountry to find artists on the streets, in gardens, and even in boats, painting the scenes before them.
Recently, a New Orleans-based artist, John Bukaty, took to the beaches of Hilton Head Island, where he spent five days practicing what he calls “random acts of art.”
It’s part of his “500 Random Acts of Art in 50 Days Summer Tour 2019.”
The Hilton Head stop was partly a family vacation, with his wife and children joining him. Next stops are Indiana, New York and Washington, D.C.
He is on a mission to “spread peace through art,” he said.
“I’m known for just showing up and painting,” he said. “Concerts, music festivals, all kinds of events. I call it ‘plainting,’ painting while playing, usually while someone is playing music.”
There was no music on the beach on this sunny July evening – just the rustle of sea oats and the occasional screech of a seagull.
Bukaty had set up his easel near Marker 11 and was working on a portrait of his children. As he awaited a sunset to add to the background, he explained his concept for this art tour.
Random acts of art might mean a drawing on paper or canvas or anything else, he said. It might be a sand castle, a sculpture made of natural findings, or a simple painting on some kind of found surface.
To demonstrate, he picked up a block of wood that had been lying in the sand near his easel, and painted a simple peace sign on it. “There,” he said. “A random act of art.”
He said he’s up to about 350 or these artful acts as of July 8. The previous evening, he had made 35 black and white paintings on paper, and let his children fill in the colors. He hopes to inspire other artists – of all skill levels – to make their own random acts of creativity.
Bukaty’s journey is not just one of moving from place to place. It’s also internal, spiritual. “I am experimenting with the unknown,” Bukaty said. “This is totally awesome and totally terrifying at the same time.”
For the past 16 years, Bukaty has traveled on his mission of peace through art. In 2009, he completed “100 paintings in 100 days” in India, and has traveled to Ireland, Rome, Aruba – “lots of exotic places,” he said. “Traveling gives me a sense of intensity that I use to put into the work.”
Coining his second word of the day, Bukaty said he likes the “spontanuity” of what he does. “I love getting out of my head with art.”
As the sun went behind clouds, Bukaty finished the conversation by filling in his peace sign art with a range of colors, handing it to his visitor.
“This is what it’s all about.”
Learn more at johnbukaty.com.