Get our newsletters
Guest Opinion

Janet Hunt: Between the lines


I met Janet Hunt about 30 years ago. She ran the gallery tucked under Hamilton’s Grill in Lambertville.

There was more to both our lives before that, but meeting creates a line in memory because it’s what you see. Her passing marks another for me.

Like Jim Hamilton and Jim Bulger, Janet was a principal denizen of that magical cluster of small buildings in the Porkyard across from Finkles. It was a major gathering place in Lambertville when I arrived — the intersection of a vibrant creative community and the much larger world.

Janet would have been in her 60s. She was friendly, soft-spoken, polite and well-versed in art and music. The Coryell Gallery was a mix of paintings and sculptures, primarily local but others farther afield. You could find some real gems.

The annual juried show was more than just an art event; it was something the town looked forward to. This was when River Run Gallery was still at the Laceworks, Riverbank Arts was in Stockton, and visitors came to this area for quality, contemporary art.

At the “Coryell Show,” people from town worked the snack and wine tables and helped out behind the desk. The crowd poured in and out of the narrow stairs. Janet was at the center.

These things wind down over time, but I got to paint Janet in her gallery before it was gone. That was a quiet afternoon 14 years ago. I set up at the base of the stairs. Occasionally, someone would walk or ride a bike along the canal out the window, and a shadow would flash across the room. We talked a little about her life of art and music. It was an easy conversation.

The last time I saw Janet was in 2021 when she was brought to my exhibition at the Michener Museum. She was 93. Janet appeared to recognize me, but it wasn’t clear how well or for how long; there was much she was unsure of.

We led her over to the painting I had done of her.

We stood behind as she looked at the image, wondering if it would mean anything to her.

And then Janet’s arm came up. Her hand went to the upper left, traced the strong line across the top, curved down where the wall gets dim at the side, then back along the lower middle to where the figure sat, the head in the center. A slow, swing-like motion. Graceful and sure. That, too, was an easy conversation.

Robert Beck is an artist and Solebury resident.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.