Michele Hundt’s business is running an apparel boutique for members of Wellington’s equestrian community.
But her passion is art, and her work in that field has been recognized by the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County, which has named her the winner of the 2021-22 Dina Baker Fund for Mature Female Artists grant.
“It was a great surprise and an honor to receive this grant,” said Hundt, who is 69. “To have Dina Baker recognize my work and my passion of fine art was an unbelievable honor, and it’s validation that I’m going in the right direction. When I got to [Palm Beach County], I decided to pursue my passion — what came from the heart. After doing commercial art for so long, I found myself again.”
Her work, based on the natural environment in the blue cypress reserve where she lives in the Palm Beach Polo Golf and Country Club, is on display in the Cultural Council’s Donald M. Ephraim Family Gallery through through July 30.
The Dina Baker Fund for Mature Female Artists was created to help stabilize and strengthen the careers of female artists ages 60 and up with financial need and recognition. The award, named for local artist Dina Baker, comes with a $10,000 grant that can be used for professional development, arts-related exhibitions, equipment and supplies, health-care costs or basic living expenses.
“Michele took this opportunity to spend the year working on a new series of work focused on the cypress swamp,” says Jessica Ransom, director of artist services for the Cultural Council. “Her works strive to evoke the sense of deep, damp darkness of the reserve while also showing the unique moments of growth in that foreboding space.”
“It is a balance of dark and light and one that Michele will likely continue to explore,” Ransom says.
Hundt, who is originally from Cleveland, settled in Wellington 20 years ago and with her husband of 38 years, Doug, a real estate agent, runs the ShowChic Dressage boutique in Wellington, which specializes in high-fashion dressage apparel.
A graduate of the Cooper School of Art in Cleveland, Hundt studied drawing at the Cleveland Museum of Art and figure drawing at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Her work has appeared in the former Mulry Fine Art Gallery in Palm Beach and the Artists Haven Gallery in Fort Lauderdale. For more than 17 years she served as a designer and artistic director at various companies in the Midwest.
An admirer of Mark Rothko (“my favorite”) and Vincent van Gogh (“very moving”), Hundt says her work is designed to take you with her on an emotional and visual adventure.
“I want you to feel something and see something deeper,” she says. “That’s what the natural environment in Florida is for me … it’s very emotional.”
Her painting Cypress Swamp III (2021), in earth tones of greens and browns, with a highlight of pink flower brushstrokes, depicts the blue cypress trees in which she takes solace in a bold and graphic manner.
Hundt also paints abstract figural paintings, yoga paintings and horse and equine art from her boutique, which doubles as her studio. She mostly paints in the equestrian off-season, as during season, she is busy with her shop and a ShowChic Mobile Boutique that she brings to events.
The boutique is adorned with her colorful and boldly stylized equestrian abstracts.
“I had been painting horses in an abstract way and wanted to venture out to something new and to memorialize the blue cypress trees in the preserve where I live and share them with others,” Hundt says.
She submitted the application for the Dina Baker grant at the urging of a friend.
“I have lots of ideas I want to work on,” says Hundt, who always knew she wanted to be an artist, and considers it a gift. “I’m never at a loss for ideas; it’s just a matter of prioritizing. There’s so much inspiration to draw on.”
Despite her professional and business accomplishments, Hundt, who considers this honor as a highlight of her career to-date, is quite modest and says, “The best is yet to come.”
She defines success as gaining an understanding of her work and doesn’t want to rest on her laurels. “I don’t want to feel too successful, or I will quit working,” she jokes. “Always striving and reaching keeps me going and keeps me young.”
“Life is about choice,” Hundt says. “I’ve been fortunate in my life and able to change with the times. You need to stay flexible and resilient. I have the feeling things are getting better.”
With no plans to retire, or spend time tending to her orchids, Hundt says, “I love what I do and will go on as long as I can. I paint because I have to,” she says. “I want to reach people in a positive, emotional and spiritual way.”
“Just keep going,” is her advice to other mature female artists.
Hundt’s exhibition will run through July 30 at the Council’s headquarters, 601 Lake Ave., in Lake Worth Beach (open Tuesdays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m.) Visit palmbeachculture.com/exhibitions for more information.