If UCLA’s basketball hall-of-fame coach John Wooden was the ‟Wizard of Westwood,“ then concrete artist Thom Hunt is the Wizard of Pawnee City, Neb. Hunt (http://www.bigbamboostudios.com) is a concrete artist who’s worked on a diverse range of decorative projects for the likes of Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, plus a concrete sea wall for the prime minister of Bahrain on his private island. He’s honed his techniques in concrete and other non-traditional decorative materials over 25 years. But the thing that separates Thom from the rest of his peers is the willingness to share his knowledge and skills with others.
His loose confederation of concrete floor installers, pool and pond builders, theme park artisans and alternative-medium artists is called RAT International (Rock Carvers, Artists and Theme Builders) http://ratinternational.ning.com. It’s the one place where a couple from Florida who makes pools and ponds can learn how to build concrete trees – and concrete trees with different bark patterns no less.
For five days in the spring more than 20 of these skilled artisans decend on Pawnee City, site of Hunt’s new gallery, to learn techniques in everything from floor finishing to concrete dinosaur construction. And they camp out in a nearby park. It’s rustic, it’s low key, but it’s a constant learning environment.
If you work in concrete, landscaping, commercial building design – just about any segment of the construction business – you should be aware of this merger of general construction and art.