Huneck, Stephen 1949(?)-
Huneck, Stephen 1949(?)-
Born c. 1949; married; wife's name Gwen.
Home—St. Johnsbury, VT.
Artist, illustrator, and writer. Operator of galleries in Woodstock, VT, Nantucket, MA, Martha's Vineyard, MA, Santa Fe, NM, and Key West, FL. Creator of a chapel dedicated to dogs, St. Johnsbury, VT. Exhibitions: Sculptures and hand-carved furniture represented in collections, including work at Museum of American Folk Art and Smithsonian Institution.
"SALLY" BOOKS; SELF-ILLUSTRATED; FOR CHILDREN
Sally Goes to the Beach, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2000.
Sally Goes to the Mountains, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2001.
Sally Goes to the Farm, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2002.
Sally's Fun in the Sun, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2002.
Sally Goes to the Vet, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2004.
Sally's Snow Adventure, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2006.
Sally Gets a Job, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2008.
My Dog's Brain, Penguin Studio (New York, NY), 1997.
The Dog Chapel: Welcome, All Creeds, All Breeds. No Dogmas Allowed, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2002.
Also illustrator of Dog Days 2002 Calendar, Abrams (New York, NY), 2002.
Stephen Huneck has always loved dogs, and he incorporates this love into his career as an artist and sculptor. However, after surviving a fall, a nine-week coma, and months of rehabilitation therapy with the aid of his wife, Gwen and his five loyal dogs—a Dalmatian, a golden retriever, and three Labrador retrievers, Huneck gave dogs a far more prominent spot in his life and career. In addition to creating a collection of children's books that feature Laborador retriever Sally as a heroine, Huneck also created an actual shrine to Man's Best Friend. Near his studio, located on a 400-acre farm nestled at the foot of the Green Mountains near St. Johnsbury, Vermont, he built the Dog Chapel, which from June to October welcomes both two-and four-legged visitors with a sign exclaiming: "Welcome, All Creeds, All Breeds. No Dogmas Allowed."
Topped by a steeple decorated with a sculpture of a Labrador retriever sporting wings, Huneck's Dog Chapel is modeled on a traditional New England church. The four wooden pews are supported by carved wood dogs, and copies of Huneck's 1997 book My Dog's Brain take the place of traditional hymnals. Light filters in through stained-glass windows, but rather than Christian symbols dog are shown, some chasing toys, some with their ears circled by a gleaming halo. The vestibule, with its Wall of Remembrance, is decorated by visitors who honor beloved pets by posting cards, photographs and other reminiscences.
In his book The Dog Chapel: Welcome, All Creeds, All Breeds. No Dogmas Allowed, Huneck recounts the history of the chapel, beginning with the accident that left him with Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome and fighting to return to a normal life; the selection of the site on Huneck's farm—called Dog Mountain—; and the start of construction in 1997. The book included several pages of color photographs of the chapel as a work in progress, and its ultimate completion as "a dignified New England structure … enjoyed by canine denizens," in the opinion of a Publishers Weekly contributor.
Huneck's best-selling children's books, which include Sally Goes to the Beach, Sally Goes to the Mountains, Sally Goes to the Farm, Sally Goes to the Vet, Sally Gets a Job, Sally's Fun in the Sun, and Sally's Snow Adventure, feature first-person narratives that follow the adventures of the author's ten-year-old black Lab. Human characters, while featured in the simple stories, are represented by Huneck only by hands and feet, allowing readers to fully enter the world as Sally sees and experiences it. Featuring woodcut illustrations that have a graphic, folk-art feel, the "Sally" books were dubbed "perfect for a read-aloud" by School Library Journal contributor JoAnn Jonas, while a Publishers Weekly critic commented on the author/illustrator's "contemporary folk-art sensibility" and noted that "Huneck knows how to juxtapose art and text for comic effect."
In Sally Goes to the Vet Sally the dog becomes injured during a rambunctious game of chase with Bingo the cat, and soon finds herself at the vet's office preparing for an X-ray. Lighter moments are captured in Sally Goes to the Farm, as Sally visits a farm and makes news friend in Molly the farm dog, Penelope the Pig, and Bessie the Cow. Noting that Sally Goes to the Farm
"is sure to raise chuckles," Denise Wilms added in Booklist that Huneck's illustrations are "simply composed and graphically crisp." In another Booklist review, Julie Cummins described Sally Goes to the Vet as "an attractively designed tribute to vets that both dog lovers and Sally's fans will like," while Be Astengo wrote in School Library Journal that the author/illustrator's "bold and folksy woodcut prints" for the book "convey a droll sense of humor and [Sally's] dog's-eye view of the world."
When readers meet up with the friendly black Lab in Sally Gets a Job, the pup's family is off at work for the day, leaving Sally to daydream about the special sort of job she might perform. As her options unfold, the dog quickly realizes that, as the family dog, she already has the best job of all. When the time comes to take a break from work, Sally takes a winter vacation to a ski lodge that welcomes dogs. She becomes lost in the snowy woods in Sally's Snow Adventure, but a pair of rescue dogs soon becomes Sally's new best friends when they guide her back to safety. In addition to its child-friendly story, Sally's Snow Adventure "provides a starting point for a discussion of rescue animals, lifeguards, or others who wear recognizable uniforms," according to School Library Journal contributor Rita Hunt Smith. "The innocent tone of the uncomplicated story is well-matched to Huneck's distinctive woodcuts," concluded a Kirkus Reviews writer.
In addition to his writing and illustrating, Huneck markets his sculpture and paintings from a group of galleries located throughout the United States, including one near his New England home. With the help of a staff of over twenty, he produces and sells dog-themed T-shirts, picture frames, lamps, furniture, and other household objects. He also offers his children's books, as well as illustrations that proclaim down-to-earth messages such as "Peace" and "Love." As the artist and illustrator commented to Carey Goldburg in the New York Times, "We've all become so distanced from nature, and dogs are an important link with it." Dogs "can be our guides," Huneck added. "They can teach us so much just by their natures. Dogs have an incredible love which they can teach us."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Beach, Laura, The Art of Stephen Huneck, Harry N. Abrams (New York, NY), 2004.
Booklist, December 15, 1997, Mary Carroll, review of My Dog's Brain, p. 678; May 15, 2000, John Peters, review of Sally Goes to the Beach, p. 1748; Denise Wilms, review of Sally Goes to the Farm, p. 1859; May 15, 2004, Julie Cummins, review of Sally Goes to the Vet, p. 1625; September 1, 2006, review of Sally's Snow Adventure, p. 137.
Boston, January, 1993, Jules Older, "Animal House," p. 128; May, 2000, Mark Zanger and Jessika Bella Mura, review of Sally Goes to the Beach, p. 264.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 2000, review of Sally Goes to the Beach, p. 107.
Country Living, September, 1991, "Carving out a Niche," p. 83; August, 2000, Matthew Holm, "Dog Days," p. 30.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2002, review of Sally Goes to the Farm, p. 414; October 1, 2006, review of Sally's Snow Adventure, p. 1016.
New York Times, September 11, 1988, Jules Older, "Artist's Life: The Making of a ‘Miracle’," p. 53; August 7, 2001, Carey Goldberg, "A Chapel That Welcomes Dogs, but Not Dogmas," p. A8.
New York Times Book Review, July 15, 2001, review of Sally Goes to the Mountain, p. 24.
Publishers Weekly, May 29, 2000, review of Sally Goes to the Beach, p. 82; November 25, 2002, review of The Dog Chapel: Welcome, All Creeds, All Breeds. No Dogmas Allowed, p. 56.
School Library Journal, June, 2000, Virginia Golodetz, review of Sally Goes to the Beach, p. 115; July, 2001, Linda M. Kenton, review of Sally Goes to the Mountains, p. 83; July, 2002, JoAnn Jonas, review of Sally Goes to the Farm, p. 93; November, 2004, Be Astengo, review of Sally Goes to the Vet, p. 107; October, 2006, Rita Hunt Smith, review of Sally's Snow Adventure, p. 112.
Yankee, March, 1988, Polly Bannister, "Best in Show," p. 108.
Stephen Huneck Home Page,http://www.huneck.com (September 12, 2007).