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Meet Kate Hungerford of Kate Hungerford Paintings in Hawthorne

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kate Hungerford.

Kate, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started drawing at an early age and high school was the art editor of our newspaper. As the oldest of 5 children living often in federal housing projects, I could never rely on ‘allowance’ I made money painting shop and gas station windows at Xmas and doing portraits of neighbors dogs.

When the old colonial part of downtown Philadelphia started gentrifying I would sit on the steps of a newly renovated brownstone with my pen and ink and then knock on your door and show you the drawing of your home…. for $20. Sold most of them.

But after enrolling in the Tyler School of Art at Temple University… my schedule became unbearable… I was at school from 9 to 4 then hurried downtown to a big deli where I worked from 5 to 11. I couldn’t complete my assignments and became very discouraged. When a friend invited me to visit Los Angeles for 10 days, I went. And stayed. For 45 years!!!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
So my art career abruptly ended and made way for a fashion career, marriage, motherhood, and several years as a stockbroker. One day I just woke up… I was not happy, there was still something missing. At the age of 47, the mother of 3 young kids, I went back to school… to the DASC (College of Design and Architecture at SMCC). It was an awesome place where really spectacular working artists mentored the students.

In a ramshackle building at 18th st… where we all were given studios… (for about $100 per semester! Once I finished, however, the world came crashing down. I lost my house, the car broke down, and I could only find temp work. The temp job I took was at the Getty Museum and paid just over minimum wage… If I wanted to paint I had to be up by 4 or 5 am and I painted on the balcony before the kids got up and I started breakfast.

Lucky for me when the job became a permanent position, my boss asked if I would like to hang my paintings there in the Conservation Dept of the Getty! The first time some visitors stood before my large painting “Cliff” discussing it, totally unaware that the receptionist (me) was the painter, I just listened and took notes. It was a better confidence builder for me than any degree.

About 3 months later the Director of Museum Operations bought that painting, and I would continue to sell paintings there regularly until I left 5 yrs later.

Kate Hungerford Paintings – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Back then and still today I paint lotus flowers when I’m stuck. Sold most of them because I am a Buddhist and the lotus is an important symbol in my community. Once when I was in a typical money crunch a friend suggested I make a line of greeting cards from my lotus images. I went to the drugstore, purchased a bunch of nice greeting cards, I removed their cards and replaced them with my lotus images…… put all 20 in an album and took a walk. Got orders at 4 stationary stores, 2 hotel gift shops, and the Buddhist bookstore. I sold 3000 cards that day. I’m still filling orders for the same cards…. 10 years later.

I paint mostly abstract landscapes where I describe life…. its delicate, violent, mystical aspects. My paintings are rented for film and tv productions, and for the home staging business, The most important location of my paintings is in the homes of those people who not only see what I see but place enough value on it to own it… and they are my collectors….. and to me, very personal friends whether I know them or I do not.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Showing up. Running out of paint. Staying alive.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Kate hungerford

    August 21, 2018 at 15:04

    Wow thanks Voyage LA!!

  2. ANULKA KITAMURA

    August 22, 2018 at 05:07

    Unstoppable. Kate Hungerford inspires with her brush. And her life

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